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Irritable bowel syndrome affects each person differently. If a person has any of the symptoms, he or she should contact a doctor for further advice.

If a person has signs and symptoms of IBS, or if a person with IBS has unusual symptoms, a doctor should be consulted. Go to a hospital emergency department if problems are severe and/or come on suddenly.

Symptoms inconsistent with IBS include fever, bloody stools or urine, vomiting, black or tarry stools, pain or diarrhea  severe enough to interrupt sleep, and weight loss. These symptoms require the attention of a doctor.

Self-Care at Home

Many people have already modified their diets before seeing a doctor. Temporarily avoiding dairy products may help assess whether symptoms of lactose intolerance are mimicking those of irritable bowel syndrome. Persons who avoid dairy products should exercise and consider taking calcium supplements.

Certain foods, such as cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts) and legumes (beans) may worsen bloating and gassiness.

  • Maintaining good physical fitness improves bowel function and helps reduce stress.
  • Stopping smoking is important for overall good health.
  • Avoiding coffee, gas-producing foods, and spicy foods may help.
  • Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption may help.


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