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I'm pretty positive I have Irritable Bowl Syndrome. Are there any things you can do to treat it without going to see a doctor? I don't have insurance and would like to avoid a costly office visit. Any advice you could give would be helpful.
– IBS Betty
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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is characterized by uncomfortable abdominal symptoms such as chronic pain, constipation, and diarrhea. The pain is often crampy in nature and is classically relieved by a bowel movement. Either diarrhea or constipation can predominate or the symptoms can alternate between the two. It is a chronic condition that usually waxes and wanes in severity and is often worsened by emotional stress or stressful life events. Mild cases are often self-diagnosed and treated, but moderate to severe cases always require physician evaluation because other diseases can present with similar symptoms. Diseases with similar symptoms to IBS include celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and endometriosis.
Although there are some prescription medications for IBS, the most important initial treatment options are simple and do not require special medications. The most important initial consideration in treating IBS involves evaluating potential dietary causes of the IBS symptoms. A good place to start is eliminating dairy products because lactose intolerance is very common and often under recognized. Other foods to avoid include coffee, alcohol, highly fatty foods, and gas producing foods such as beans and broccoli. Increasing dietary fiber and water consumption can help with symptoms of constipation. Simple over the counter medications are also commonly used to treat IBS. Imodium is frequently used if chronic diarrhea is the main symptom. Colace and sennakot are common medications used to treat chronic constipation. It is also important to seek help in the treatment of depression or anxiety, which are commonly associated with IBS. Treating underlying depression with antidepressant medications often greatly improve IBS symptoms.
It is very important to consult a doctor if any concerning symptoms are present. Concerning symptoms include: weight loss, rectal bleeding, bloody stools, fevers, moderate to severe abdominal pain, profuse watery diarrhea, and chronic constipation. If you are reluctant to see a doctor due to lack of insurance, then you have a number of options. These options include applying for Medicaid, locating a local free clinic, buying health insurance out of pocket if you find the problem might require many visits to a physician.
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