We’ve all been there; you or someone close to you experiences a stomach ache, and you’re not sure why. This could be simply a belly ache after eating something that your body didn’t like, or maybe it is something more. One of the most common ailments that affect people worldwide is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders estimates that 10-15 percent of the world’s population is affected by IBS, but not everyone seeks out medical care for this condition.

Here at ZipClinic, we want to make sure our patients are well taken care of and are informed of what type of care they might need. We’ve got answers to your questions!

What is IBS?

IBS is a disorder that mostly affects the large intestine, and is characterized by the reoccurrence of abdominal pain and discomfort in relation to bowel movements on a weekly basis. This usually happens over a period of several months and is associated with stool frequency and appearance change, such as color or consistency. You might experience an uncomfortable amount of gas or possible bloating as well.

These symptoms can vary depending on the person, but according to the Mayo Clinic, a small percentage of people who have IBS experience very intense pain, while most experience mild discomfort.

What causes IBS?

Unfortunately, there are no clear reasons why some people have IBS. There are a lot of factors that play a role, though, such as inflammation of the intestines, infection, or changes in bacteria living in the gut.

There are reasons to believe that food poisoning can play a significant role, as E. coli and salmonella are at the root of IBS-D(diarrhea) and IBS-M(mixed). There is evidence that the food poisoning can cause nerve damage, bringing on the IBS symptoms.

What can alleviate symptoms?

Change your diet! Insert healthier options into your meals and keep track of what makes you not feel well. A widely used term for foods that are not absorbed adequately by the small intestine is FODMAPs, an acronym for all the various saccharides that can make IBS worse. These saccharides, or sugar, includes foods with high fructose, lactose, and sweeteners. These foods can trigger IBS symptoms, so it is best to stay away.

However, if you are experiencing symptoms of IBS or maybe are unsure if you have IBS, seeing a doctor is the best way to find treatment. Treatment depends on the patient. Depending on how extensive the symptoms are, treatment for IBS can vary from simply eliminating things from your diet or taking medication. Either way, it is best to seek out medical help to get the best care possible.

Our healthcare professionals at ZipClinic are active in helping our patients find solutions to any non-emergency ailments, and we want to make sure you are getting the care you need. ZipClinic Urgent Care provides walk-in, extended hours’ service for most minor medical conditions in Denver, Aurora and Westminster, Colorado; Bozeman and Belgrade, Montana; and Bowling Green, Kentucky.  Most insurance plans are accepted and no appointment is ever needed.