Abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation can all signal one frustrating condition and a poor quality of life — irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Dr. Lillian Leong is a board-certified family and integrative medicine physician and functional medicine specialist who is experienced in treating IBS. Her treatment plans address the underlying cause of your IBS and help you improve this sometimes-challenging condition. Her practice, LL Integrative Life, is located in Walnut Creek, California. Call today for an appointment regarding your IBS symptoms or book your visit online.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an increasingly common disorder that involves the large intestine. Symptoms of IBS include abdominal cramping and pain, bloating and gas, and diarrhea or constipation or both. It’s a chronic condition, so while your symptoms may vary in severity, they can disappear for weeks or months, or remain fairly constant.
There are three types of IBS. They all have abdominal symptoms such as cramping and bloating, but they vary according to the consistency of your stools:
Fortunately, IBS does not increase your risk of colorectal cancer. There is controversy in this field, however, and some theorize that IBS may be on a continuum with ‘leaky gut’ (gut lining integrity compromise) and dysbiosis, thus possibly contributing to food sensitivities and hyperresponsiveness of the immune system. Regardless, persistent IBS symptoms can greatly interfere with your quality of life. It can make you miss work or skip social activities. Many people with IBS also say the discomfort can bring on depression and anxiety, which then worsens the symptoms of IBS.
The intestinal walls are lined with layers of muscle that contract to move food through your digestive system. Stronger-than-normal contractions can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Weaker intestinal contractions may slow food passage and cause hard, dry stools.
Inflammation in the intestines caused by an increased number of immune-system cells may also result in abdominal pain, diarrhea, and other symptoms of IBS.
IBS can emerge after a severe bout of infectious diarrhea (gastroenteritis) caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Bacterial overgrowth in your abdomen can also bring on IBS symptoms. And sometimes, IBS strikes by reducing the "good" bacteria that live in your intestines.
Other things that might trigger or worsen IBS symptoms include:
Dr. Leong will complete a detailed evaluation of your symptoms and your health status before deciding on treatment options. She may recommend dietary changes, stress reduction, or further diagnostic studies to uncover the root cause of your digestive distress.