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Irritable Bowel Syndrome
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that prevents food from moving through your intestines normally. The food may move through too slowly or too quickly. This causes bloating, increased gas, constipation, or diarrhea.
Seek care immediately if:
- You have severe abdominal pain.
- Your bowel movements are dark or have blood in them.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever.
- You have pain in your rectum.
- Your abdominal pain does not go away, even after treatment.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Diarrhea medicine helps decrease the amount of diarrhea you have. Some of these medicines coat the intestine and make bowel movements less watery. Other medicines work by slowing down how fast the intestines move food through.
- Laxatives help treat constipation by moving food and liquids out of your stomach faster.
- Stool softeners soften your bowel movements to prevent straining.
- Muscle relaxers decrease abdominal pain and muscle spasms.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. You may need to avoid certain foods to decrease your symptoms.
- Drink liquids as directed. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. For most people, good liquids to drink are water, juice, and milk.
- Exercise regularly. Ask about the best exercise plan for you. Exercise can decrease your blood pressure and improve your health.
- Manage stress. Stress may slow healing and cause illness. Learn new ways to relax, such as deep breathing.
- Keep a record of everything you eat and drink, and your symptoms, for 3 weeks. Bring this record with you to your follow-up visits.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.