If you suspect that you Irritable Bowel Syndrome, due to having frequent bouts of diarrhea, constipation, or a little of both, then you may not realize just how important it is to report your symptoms to a doctor. You may believe the common misconception that IBS is just "something you have to deal with" and that there are no treatments for it, think that your symptoms just "aren't a big deal," or even feel a little embarrassed talking to your doctor about your bathroom habits. However, there are two very important reasons to report your symptoms to a doctor.
1. You May Suffer from a Digestive Disorder That Is Not IBS at All
Due to the fact that IBS is a relatively common digestive disorder, you may have a friend or family member who suffers from it and told you about their symptoms and just assume that, because your symptoms are similar, you both have IBS. You likely also know that IBS is not typically life threatening, so you may feel like "just dealing with it" won't harm your health.
However, not only is IBS treatment important itself (for reasons that will be discussed later), but it has very similar symptoms to a few very serious digestive disorders. Just three of several serious digestive disorder with symptoms similar to those of IBS include ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, and celiac disease.
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are both chronic autoimmune diseases that cause ill digestion of food that leads a person to suffer from frequent diarrhea, stomach cramping, and often, malnutrition. These diseases occur when a body's own immune system decides to attack a person's colon. Celiac disease is caused by a gluten allergy and also causes diarrhea and stomach cramping.
If your suspected IBS is actually one of these more serious digestive diseases, then proper treatment is very important to get the disease under control to keep it from progressing and help your body absorb nutrients from food. Left untreated, both ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease can progress to the point where a sufferer needs to have their colon completely removed.
2. IBS Treatment Is Important For Your Health
While IBS is typically non-life threatening, that doesn't mean that its symptoms cannot take a toll on your health. A properly hydrated body is important for good health, and frequent bouts of diarrhea can lead to dehydration that causes a lack of energy and even dangerous heart rhythm disturbances.
If you are prone to constipation, then realize that while this is typically just uncomfortable, it can lead to colon damage if you let just one episode of constipation last a bit too long. Severe constipation can cause a bowel obstruction (this typically occurs after about 7 days of constipation) due to the old stool in your intestines becoming dry and hard; this can lead to colon perforation and even infection.
There are many treatments for digestive disorders today, including IBS, that can greatly ease not only your everyday symptoms, but also prevent long-term health problems that could occur due to a disease complication.
If you suspect that you are suffering from IBS, then it is important to report your symptoms to a doctor who can use their best judgement to decide if you need to be screened for more serious digestive disorders, such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, or celiac disease. Then, whether you are diagnosed with a different digestive disorder or the IBS you suspected, it is important to find a treatment that works well for you to control it and prevent possible future complications.