Irritable Bowel Syndrome Specialist

Gastrointestinal Medicine Associates

Gastroenterologists located in Fairfax, VA & Reston, VA

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects 12% of all adults, but women are twice as likely as men to struggle with this chronic disease. The board-certified physicians at Gastrointestinal Medicine Associates have years of experience helping people restore normal bowel function and get back to life without the constant worry of IBS. If you have problems with abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea, call one of the offices in Fairfax or Reston, Virginia, to schedule an appointment and begin treatment that relieves your symptoms.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Q&A

What is irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic functional condition that affects the large intestine. IBS is defined by its primary symptoms: changes in your bowel habits, abdominal pain, and bloating.

There are three types of IBS, based on your symptoms:

IBS with constipation (IBS-C)

You may have infrequent bowel movements, strain to have a bowel movement, or feel like you can’t empty your bowels. The abdominal pain that accompanies IBS-C usually improves after having a full bowel movement.

IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D)

IBS-D causes abdominal pain and bloating together with loose, frequent bowel movements. Your diarrhea usually occurs during the day, not while sleeping. People with IBS-D may have other symptoms such as urinary urgency and pain in other areas of their body.

IBS with mixed bowel habits (IBS-M)

If you have this type, you have the symptoms of both IBS-C and IBS-D.

How does IBS differ from IBD?

There’s no connection between IBS and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), but you can have both conditions. IBS doesn’t harm your gastrointestinal tract. By comparison, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage.

IBD includes two primary conditions: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Crohn’s disease

Crohn’s disease can cause inflammation anywhere in your gastrointestinal tract, but it most often affects the small intestine and the first part of the large intestine. The inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease can penetrate deep into the intestinal wall.

Ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis only affects the lining of your colon (large intestine) and rectum. The inflammation associated with ulcerative colitis typically appears in patches of open sores.

How is irritable bowel syndrome treated?

Your treatment focuses on relieving your symptoms and restoring normal bowel habits. 

Gastrointestinal Medicine Associates creates multi-modal treatment plans that include:

Dietary therapy

Some foods, such as dairy products containing lactose or plant foods containing fermentable carbohydrates, tend to trigger IBS symptoms. However, the foods that trigger your IBS may be different, so the goal of dietary therapy is to improve your symptoms by identifying your triggers and keeping them out of your diet. 

Medications

Your doctor at Gastrointestinal Medicine Associates prescribes one of many possible medications to relieve constipation and diarrhea. 

You may need: 

  • Antispasmodics
  • Bile acid sequestrants
  • Prosecretory medications
  • Fiber supplements
  • Antidiarrheal medications
  • Laxatives
  • Stool softeners

Your provider also recommends treatment for severe pain.

IBS can be challenging to treat and needs the expertise of the specialists at Gastrointestinal Medicine Associates. If you need help with IBS, call the nearest office to schedule an appointment.