Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - Issaquah, WA

Individualized Strategies to Make Your IBS a Thing of the Past 

At Cascade Integrative Medicine in Issaquah, we provide comprehensive and highly individualized care to effectively treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS can disrupt daily life with symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. Our doctors work closely with patients to develop personalized treatment plans, focusing on symptom management, dietary adjustments, stress reduction techniques, and lifestyle modifications. We strive to improve the overall quality of life for those with IBS, offering guidance and support to help them regain control of their gut health and enjoy a more comfortable life.

What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects 25-45 million people in the U.S. and is twice as likely to affect women as it is men.  Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder that affects the large intestine. Unlike inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) does not damage the integrity of the intestinal lining, and it is not a risk factor for developing colorectal cancer.

Causes of IBS

The causes of IBS are poorly understood.  It is believed that food allergies or food intolerances may contribute to irritable bowel syndrome. Offending foods may be chocolate, spices, beans, milk, and alcohol, although other foods have been implicated as well. Irritable bowel syndrome may be exacerbated during times of stress.  In women, symptoms may worsen around or during their menstrual periods. Dysbiosis and bacterial overgrowth in the gut can also lead to IBS.

IBS symptoms

Irritable bowel syndrome can manifest with a variety of symptoms, which can vary in severity and duration. Common symptoms of IBS include:

  • Abdominal Pain and Cramping: Often occurring in the lower abdomen and varying in intensity, this pain can be relieved after a bowel movement.
  • Diarrhea: Frequent loose or watery stools are a typical symptom, and individuals with IBS-D (diarrhea-predominant IBS) may experience urgent needs to use the restroom.
  • Constipation: Difficulty passing stools or infrequent bowel movements, often accompanied by straining or a sensation of incomplete evacuation.
  • Bloating and Gas: A feeling of fullness or tightness in the abdomen, along with increased gas production and discomfort.
  • Alterations in Bowel Habits: Individuals with IBS may experience a mix of constipation and diarrhea, or their symptoms may fluctuate over time.
  • Mucus in Stools: Passage of mucus during bowel movements is a common occurrence in individuals with IBS.
  • Feeling of Incomplete Evacuation: Even after a bowel movement, the sensation that the bowel is not completely empty.
  • Changes in Stool Appearance: Stools may vary in appearance, consistency, or color.
  • Increased Frequency of Bowel Movements: Some individuals may need to use the restroom more often than usual.
  • Exacerbation of Symptoms: Symptoms may worsen during times of stress, after eating certain foods, or during the menstrual cycle for some individuals.

It’s important to note that IBS symptoms can overlap with symptoms of other gastrointestinal disorders. A proper diagnosis by one of our physicians is essential to differentiate IBS from other conditions and to develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The treatment of IBS typically involves a multifaceted approach that aims to manage symptoms effectively, improve the individual’s overall quality of life while also identifying the root cause of the condition. Here are some strategies our doctors may implement when treating IBS:

  • Dietary Modifications: (1) Identifying trigger foods: Keeping a food diary to pinpoint foods that exacerbate symptoms and then avoiding or reducing their consumption. (2) Low-FODMAP diet: Restricting fermentable carbohydrates (FODMAPs) to alleviate symptoms. This should be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional or a dietitian.
  • Lifestyle Changes: (1) Stress management: Employing stress-reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or counseling to help manage IBS symptoms. (2) Regular exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity to help alleviate symptoms and improve overall well-being.
  • Medications: (1) Antispasmodics: Medications that can help relieve abdominal pain and cramping. (2) Fiber supplements: Supplements like psyllium can help alleviate constipation in some individuals. (3) Anti-diarrheal Medications: Such as loperamide for those with diarrhea-predominant IBS. (4) Medications for Constipation: Laxatives or stool softeners to manage constipation. (5) Probiotics: Some types of probiotics may be beneficial in managing symptoms. (6) Antibiotics.
  • Alternative Therapies: (1) Acupuncture: May help alleviate symptoms, especially pain and discomfort. (2) Herbal Remedies: Some individuals find relief using specific herbal teas or supplements. Always consult a healthcare professional before using any herbal products.
  • Education and Support: (1) Patient Education: Providing information about IBS, triggers, and management strategies. (2) Support Groups: Encouraging individuals to join support groups, either in-person or online, to share experiences and coping strategies.

IBS treatment is highly individualized, and what works for one person may not work for another. Our doctors will work closely with you to develop a tailored treatment plan that addresses your specific symptoms and concerns.