The connection between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and bloating is fairly straightforward. Abdominal bloating is a common symptom of IBS, and is caused by many factors. Constipation, gas, and diarrhea are all common symptoms of irritable bowel disorders, and each of these can cause bloating. IBS and bloating almost always occur together.
Since there are many things which may contribute to IBS and bloating, treatment may vary based on the individual. In most cases, dietary changes are among the first treatment options tried. Each patient may respond better to some foods over others, and two patients may have two completely different trigger foods. Getting rid of bloating related to the condition may depend on what precisely is causing the bloat.
Constipation may be present with IBS and bloating, and cause a bloated feeling if stools have become very hard and compacted inside the intestines. This can lead to distention, or the bulging of the stomach outward, leading to severe pain and cramping in most patients. Treatment for this may include eating more dietary fiber and the use of laxatives to help move stools out of the body.
Intestinal gas is another common factor in IBS and bloating. Gas can be caused from eating foods that are harder for stomach bacteria to break down, or by swallowing too much air. Changing one’s diet and avoiding talking too quickly, chewing gum, and drinking carbonated drinks may help.
If none of these things seems to be related to IBS and bloating, a doctor may need to rule out potential other causes for symptoms. IBS is generally a diagnosis of exclusion, which means all other things are ruled out before a diagnosis is made. For this reason, patients should not try and diagnose themselves with IBS because another condition may be to blame.
Common and uncommon ailments which are similar in symptoms to IBS and bloating include lactose intolerance, Crohn’s disease, ovarian cancer, bowel obstruction, or colon cancer. Sometimes a viral or bacterial infection may also cause bloating and pain. IBS usually causes chronic symptoms and pain and bloating usually subside after a bowel movement. If this isn’t the case, another cause may be to blame.
The most common treatment for IBS and bloating is a change in dietary habits, including the avoidance of foods which are known to trigger IBS symptoms. Sometimes medications may be also be given by prescription. Over the counter options may also be beneficial at keeping symptoms at bay until all other treatments take effect.