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Irritable bowel syndrome and how to identify the symptoms

Do certain foods make you feel uncomfortable?

Are certain foods making you feel uncomfortable? There's a condition that may be the cause of that discomfort.

"People may be familiar with it from experiencing it themselves, knowing someone who has it, or they may even be familiar with it and not be aware of it," says Sarah Bligh, gastroenterologist with Mercy Medical Center

Bligh is referring to is a condition referred to as irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS.

IBS is caused by bacteria that naturally live in the intestine, but interact with the foods we eat in a bad way.

"Some people will have symptoms that come and go, and they may only last a short time," says Bligh. "Other people will have some degree of symptoms daily, but it may get better or worse during the day depending on what those triggers are."

Most of those symptoms are abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea, and constipation.

IBS is most common during the late teens and early twenties.

"There are treatment options available," says Bligh. "You don't just have to live with these symptoms your whole life."

Those treatment options range from a change in diet, exercise patterns, or even prescription medications.

Unfortunately, a definite diagnosis may take some time to achieve.

"There is no test, no blood test, no radiology exam or procedure that definitively confirms the diagnosis. It's based a lot on your clinical systems," says Bligh. "So it can take a little while to make the diagnosis and know exactly what's going on."

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