NYACK, N.Y. -- Irritable bowel syndrome is a common disorder that affects the large intestine and could cause debilitating symptoms, and a Nyack Hospital doctor is offering advice on symptoms of IBS and ways to treat them.
The symptoms tend to get better or worse depending on factors including a person’s diet and amount of stress, according to Dr. Howard Feldfogel of Clarkstown Medical Associates and director of the department of medicine at Nyack Hospital. Some people can control their symptoms through diet and stress reduction while others are helped with medication.
The cause of IBS is not known. To diagnose IBS, the doctor rules out other conditions that might be causing the symptoms, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease — both forms of inflammatory bowel disease.
If symptoms are consistent with IBS, it is recommended to keep a log of which foods may worsen the symptoms and any medications that may trigger them, Feldfogel said.
Foods to avoid include:
- Spicy dishes.
- Fatty foods.
- Gassy foods such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.
Some people find fiber, either through foods or supplements, can help their constipation. Stress reduction is often helpful. Regular exercise, yoga, massage or meditation are all examples of ways to reduce stress. Counseling can also help some people with IBS.
Medications can also treat many of the IBS symptoms. Anti-diarrheal medications Hyoscyamine (Levsin) and dicyclomine (Bentyl) can help relieve painful bowel spasms. Alosetron (Lotronex) is designed to relax the colon and slow the movement of waste through the lower bowel.
“Patients may need a combination of treatments,” Feldfogel said. “The important thing is to have IBS diagnosed. Once you understand what is causing your symptoms, you can take steps to control them.”
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