Complications of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Medically reviewed by: Gary H. Hoffman, MD

IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, is a condition characterized by bloating, abdominal pain, and discomfort. Though this disorder is not life-threatening, its symptoms can make it very painful and uncomfortable for you to live with. A handful of complications related to this condition are discussed below.

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Complications to Your Lifestyle

IBS can cause physical complications that may affect your lifestyle. As long as you are aware of them, you will be able to make the best of your situation. The following bullet points go over four common important complications:

  • GI Disorders: GI disorders are characterized by inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, which includes the path food takes from the mouth to the anus. A physician may prescribe Lotronex tablets to treat mild cases, and in more severe instances, surgical repair of damaged tissue may be required.
  • Diarrhea: Diarrhea is when you experience three or more liquid bowel movements every day. Acute diarrhea may be treated through the use of antibiotics, though your doctor may prescribe you products similar to Pepto-Bismol in less extreme cases.
  • Cramping: Cramping is usually brought about by eating too much food. Both cramping and diarrhea may be avoided by cutting down on food consumption or eating smaller-sized meals. A healthy diet prescribed by a dietician can be beneficial in combination with the solutions described in this article.
  • Sleeping disturbances: Sleeping problems are common with IBS as abdominal pain and other cramps may keep you awake during the night. This leads to you having less energy during the day and experiencing more fatigue. If this complication gets too serious, a doctor may prescribe you sleeping pills to give your body a chance to rest.

Complications of Depression and Anxiety

It has been concluded that three out of every four IBS patients will suffer from at least one incident of depression. Depression is more than just feeling sad. People suffering from depression may experience extreme cases of sadness, lose interest in their hobbies and friends, drastically change their eating patterns, suffer from both fatigue and insomnia and even start fantasizing about suicide. In order to treat this complication, you may need to start taking anti-depressants, which are drugs that help treat depression and its symptoms.

Another complication brought about by IBS is anxiety. Approximately half of all IBS patients develop generalized anxiety disorder or GAD. This long-term condition causes people to feel anxious and extremely uneasy about a large variety of issues and situations.  One way of treating anxiety is through cognitive behavioral therapy, or simply CBT. This talking treatment helps a patient deal with present problems by attempting to alter the way in which these patients think and behave. Every problem is broken down into smaller parts, in order to arrive at some conclusion on what makes you feel anxious. This way, patients can better manage their anxiety by avoiding these negative triggers and focusing on the more positive things in life.

Other Physical Complications

Other complications from IBS include constipation and bladder issues. You may feel constipated, or experience instances wherein bowel movements are both infrequent and hard to pass. Bladder issues may become a problem as well, for pressure on the bladder may cause irregular urination and irritation. Your body may also react to IBS in the form of muscle pain and heartburn.

Complications related to having IBS can also be a threat to your typical lifestyle. You may experience difficulty in leaving the home as well as enjoying a healthy sex life because of the difficulty you might have in coping with your symptoms outside the home and in relationships with other people.

But don’t let your IBS cause you to withdraw from an enjoyable life. Our Los Angeles physicians are here to help. Over 50 years of leading responsible, sensitive medicine has helped many more like you receive the right attention to improve your quality of life.

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