Very few people seek help for IBS. Although about 20 per cent of Americans show signs of IBS, only one in five of those with symptoms seek help (Mayo Clinic).  We all expect to sometimes have an “upset stomach” or gas pain, but if it persists it may be a sign of something more that could be helped with treatment.  It is important to have these types of signs checked out to make sure a more serious problem may not exist.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a disorder that affects the large intestine, or colon.  Its most common symptoms include:

  • Cramping *
  • Pain *
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Mucus in the stool

*These symptoms in the abdominal area are the key signs of IBS. The pain associated with IBS is generally relieved with a bowel movement.

Less common symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Feeling of Fullness
  • Urgency to reach the bathroom
  • Various non-GI symptoms like muscle pain

Getting a diagnosis. The pattern of your symptoms and the change in bowel movements – color, form, frequency – are some key things to note when you suspect something is wrong in your digestive system.  Many symptoms of IBS such as diarrhea or gas pains occur in most people from time to time, but when there is a change in what has been normal for you for years, make a note of it.  And if it continues, hits you with periods of bad cramping and pain several times a month, it may be time to get a medical opinion about it.  IBS is a chronic condition that has to be managed long-term.

Unrelated symptoms. If you have other symptoms that are not typical of IBS, it helps the physician, commonly a gastroenterologist, rule it out as your problem.  Be sure to share all symptoms with your doctor during an evaluation appointment. There are some simple tests or scans that he may have performed to help with determining the diagnosis as well. Sometimes the severity of IBS symptoms changes over the course of time, too. Don’t be fooled if all of a sudden it seems like it is gone for a while, and then reoccurs.

IBS is treatable.  For some people with IBS, a dietary, stress or lifestyle change is what is needed, and the symptoms can be alleviated. For others, medicine and counseling with be necessary. A gastroenterologist is the specialist trained in the diagnosis and treatment of digestive disorders, such as IBS.

Make an appointment today.  If you are experiencing some of these symptoms several days every month, you should discuss them with a physician. To  make an appointment at Southeast Valley Gastroenterology, specialists in this area, for their professional staff to evaluate your case , call (480) 899-9800 or schedule an appointment on their website at

Mayo Clinic. “Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” 31 July 2014.