Irritable Bowel Syndrome (cont.)

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Psychological treatments

Psychological treatments include cognitive-behavioral therapy, hypnosis, psychodynamic or interpersonal psychotherapy, and relaxation/stress management. These treatments have been used in patients with IBS who are psychologically distressed to the point that their quality of life is impaired. A few studies have shown that psychological treatments can reduce anxiety and other psychological symptoms in addition to reducing IBS symptoms, particularly pain and diarrhea.

IBS Diet

It is unclear if diet has much effect on the symptoms of IBS. Nevertheless, patients often associate their symptoms with specific foods (such as salads, fats, etc.). Although specific foods might worsen IBS, it is clear that they are not the cause of IBS. The common placebo response in IBS also may explain the improvement of symptoms with the elimination of specific foods in some people.

Dietary fiber often is recommended for patients with IBS. Fiber probably is of benefit in IBS patients with constipation, but it does not reduce abdominal pain. Lactose (milk sugar) intolerance often is blamed for diarrhea-predominant IBS, but it does not cause IBS. Because they both are common conditions, lactose intolerance and IBS may coexist. In this situation, restricting lactose will improve, but not eliminate the symptoms. Lactose intolerance is easily diagnosed by testing the effect of lactose (hydrogen breath testing) or trying a strict lactose elimination diet. Intolerance to sugars other than lactose, specifically, fructose, sucrose, and sorbitol, may cause symptoms that are similar to IBS or make IBS worse. It is unlikely, however, that these sugars cause IBS.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/18/2012

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome - Diagnosis Question: How was the diagnosis of your irritable bowel syndrome established?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - Treatments Question: What was your treatment for irritable bowel syndrome?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - Symptoms Question: What symptoms do you have with IBS, and are there certain triggers?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - Diet Question: What dietary changes have you made to manage your IBS? Which foods seem to make it worse?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - SIBO Question: Have you been tested for SIBO? If so, what were the results and how is it being treated?