Digestive Diseases

NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital

Digestive Diseases

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder in which the intestines are sensitive and reactive beyond what is considered typical. If you have IBS, you may experience abdominal pain, cramping, gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation that interferes with your quality of life. Gastroenterologists and dietitians at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital are skilled in distinguishing IBS from similar illnesses and helping you relieve your symptoms with dietary changes, stress management, and if necessary, medications.

Diagnosing IBS

Because other digestive disorders may also cause some IBS symptoms, our doctors may perform certain tests to rule out other condition. These tests may include:

  • Physical examination
  • Blood and urine tests
  • Examination of the stool
  • Colonoscopy (insertion of a flexible scope to see inside the colon)
  • Upper Endoscopy (insertion of a flexible scope to see inside the esophagus, stomach and small intestine)
  • Abdominal imaging tests, such as x-rays and ultrasound
  • Breath tests for malabsorption or bacterial overgrowth
  • Specific motility tests for different parts of the GI tract

Treating IBS

Your gastroenterologist and a registered dietitian can help you identify treatments that relieve your IBS symptoms.

  • Irritable bowel syndrome diet. Your dietitian will work with you one-on-one to tailor a diet that works best for you and avoids certain foods that trigger symptoms of IBS.
  • Reducing stress. Many people with IBS find that activities aimed at lowering stress—such as yoga, exercise, and counseling—contribute to reducing their IBS symptoms.
  • Medications. Your doctor may recommend laxatives to treat constipation, anti-diarrheal medications to treat diarrhea, and anti-spasmodic drugs to help control spasms and pain in the colon. Low doses of certain antidepressants can also contribute to reducing pain in some people. Several medications are now approved by the Food and Drug Administration for both IBS with constipation and IBS with diarrhea. Your doctor can explain how they work and help you choose which medication might be helpful for you.