If digestive symptoms have you baffled, you aren’t alone. It’s difficult to describe symptoms when they aren’t always the same. Sometimes, it’s what you know about a condition that makes you think you don’t have it. While irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) often causes abdominal bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea, there are other symptoms that often get ignored. IBS also occurs most often in young to middle-aged women, but males and females can develop IBS at any time from childhood until their golden years.
Getting Your Symptoms Diagnosed
Symptoms of IBS are similar to those of other gastroenterological conditions including colon cancer. Even if you don’t like the idea of discussing your bodily functions with your doctor, getting an accurate diagnosis is crucial to your health. If your symptoms are related to IBS, you may be able to treat and control them at home. If they are something more serious like colon cancer, an early diagnosis can help save your life.
People who don’t have IBS or don’t have others close to them with the condition aren’t always aware of the symptoms. They may think that their discomfort comes from a different condition or from eating the wrong foods. Any time you experience changes in your digestive system that last more than a couple of days, you need to have your condition diagnosed.
- Frequent Gas – Bloating and constipation are common symptoms of IBS, but gas can be a problem as well. If the gas occurs along with bloating, it’s likely to stem from the fermentation of food that hasn’t yet digested. Frequent gas also occurs with colon cancer, especially when accompanied by changes in your bowel habits or seeing blood in your stool. If your gas is the result of IBS, drink lots of water and try to reduce your stress levels.
- Fatigue – When food isn’t properly absorbed, your body doesn’t get the nutrition it needs. Sometimes chronic fatigue syndrome occurs along with IBS. Many people with IBS also have sleep problems which contribute to fatigue in general. Your extreme tiredness could be a symptom of IBS, especially if you experience pain the day after a sleepless night.
- Early Satiety – Feeling full after eating small amounts of food can make it difficult to stay on a healthy diet. IBS could be the reason you can’t eat enough to get proper nutrients. Other possible reasons include pancreatic cancer, stomach ulcers, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. IBS often coincides with the latter, causing heartburn after eating meals. You should have heartburn, reflux, or early satiety diagnosed whether they occur independently or together.
- Nausea – A significant number of people with IBS experience nausea, most often first thing in the morning. This symptom often accompanies constipation and may be relieved by having a bowel movement. Sometimes the nausea is severe enough to cause vomiting. Nausea and vomiting from IBS aren’t life-threatening but they can be symptoms of other conditions such as a bowel obstruction.
- Backache – Backaches with IBS are usually referred pain from the large bowel. Back pain can also originate from several other conditions.
- Muscle Pain – People with fibromyalgia often experience muscle pain along with other symptoms of IBS. Some experts believe the fibromyalgia causes a greater sensitivity to pain resulting in pain in the muscles.
- Pain During and After Sex – The proximity of the vagina to the bowel increase the odds of having IBS-related pain during or after sex for women. For some women, talking to their doctor about sex-related pain is even more difficult than discussing the common symptoms of IBS. However, the potential for other causes makes it just as important to have the source of your pain diagnosed.
What Should I Do?
Don’t let the embarrassment of discussing digestive problems keep you from having your symptoms diagnosed. Even if they aren’t common symptoms of IBS, your symptoms may be a signal that something is wrong. It’s important to your health to address any new symptoms that you experience. The first step is becoming aware of IBS and all the potential symptoms it causes.
Gastroenterologists are specialists in conditions and diseases affecting the digestive tract. When IBS symptoms occur, they can provide you with the accurate diagnosis for your condition. They also make it easier to talk about the problems you are having without embarrassment. If you are having any of the symptoms associated with IBS, contact GI Associates to schedule an appointment. You can count on the GI specialists at any of our three locations for an expert evaluation of your condition.