Digestive Health

Don’t let the bathroom rule your life

Augusta University
Written by Augusta University

Do you find yourself making plans around your visits to the bathroom?

You’re not alone.

Your symptoms could point to irritable bowel syndrome, “a chronic condition where patients suffer from abdominal pain and altered bowel habits in the absence of any other causes,” explained Dr. Amol Sharma, a gastroenterologist at Augusta University’s Digestive Health Center.

IBS can occur at any age but may be seen as early as adolescence or early adulthood. According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, IBS is the most common functional GI disorder with 10-15% of adults and adolescents having symptoms consistent with IBS.

While the underlying cause of IBS remains unclear, “some patients may develop symptoms after a viral illness affecting the gastrointestinal tract,” Sharma said. “Severe stress and anxiety may be drivers of symptoms in IBS.” If you develop any of the following symptoms, also known as alarm symptoms, you should see a doctor.

Common symptoms

  • Bloating and abdominal distension
  • Crampy, diffuse abdominal discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Food intolerance

Uncommon symptoms

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia
  • Fever
  • Experiencing symptoms in the middle of the night

“While IBS is not known to decrease life expectancy, it can dramatically affect quality of life,” said Sharma. “IBS is associated with increased health care costs and is the second highest reason for missing work.”

Traveling with IBS

Individuals with IBS can experience difficulty traveling or living a normal life. Here are some helpful tips if you’re traveling soon:

IBS patients should seek consultation with a Gastroenterologist to exclude other potential causes of symptoms. “Cases not responding to initial medical management should be referred for further evaluation by a Neurogastroenterologist & GI Motility specialist.” Sharma said.

Get to the bottom of it
We’re here to help you get to the bottom of your digestive health concerns. To schedule your appointment, call 706-446-4887 or visit augustahealth.org/digestivehealth.

About the author

Augusta University

Augusta University

Based in Augusta, Georgia, Augusta University Health is a world-class health care network, offering the most comprehensive primary, specialty and subspecialty care in the region. Augusta University Health provides skilled, compassionate care to its patients, conducts leading-edge clinical research and fosters the medical education and training of tomorrow’s health care practitioners. Augusta University Health is a not-for-profit corporation that manages the clinical operations associated with Augusta University.

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