Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is irritable bowel syndrome a disease?"
Weird stomach problems the last month or so and my friend says its IBS. Did I catch it? How do you get irritable bowel syndrome and how do you know you have it?
There are many potential causes of 'weird stomach problems.' I would suggest that you go see your primary care doctor if you are still having symptoms, and they will help you figure out what is going on. Irritable bowel syndrome is one of those possibilities. This is a condition in which people experience episodes of abdominal pain and cramping, sometimes with diarrhea or constipation, that are closely tied to periods of stress. Irritable bowel syndrome is not 'contagious' and you cannot catch it. It has more to do with your body's sensitivity to stress and how this is processed as digestive upset. Fortunately, irritable bowel syndrome is often easy to treat, with modification of stress, more exercise, increasing fiber and other dietary changes. Your doctor can go through these with you but, first, it will be important to exclude other causes of abdominal pain and discomfort, which might include intestinal infections, heartburn, and stomach ulcers among many others. Additionally, problems with the menstrual cycle, if you are a woman, can also often be interpreted as stomach pain. Start by seeing your primary care doctor who can perform a quick exam and help you figure out what, if anything, you need to do next.
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