When should I see a healthcare provider?

See your provider if you have symptoms more than three times a month for more than three months. And if you have symptoms less often, but they interfere with your life, it’s a good idea to talk to your provider.

Some symptoms may point to a more serious problem. Contact your provider as soon as possible if you have:

  • Bleeding.
  • Fever.
  • Weight loss.
  • Severe pain.

How can I best take care of myself if I have IBS?

IBS will likely be with you for life. But it doesn’t shorten your lifespan, and you won’t need surgery to treat it. To feel your best, try to identify and avoid your triggers, including certain foods, medications and stressful situations. A dietitian can help you plan a nutritious diet around your specific needs. Talk to your healthcare provider if symptoms don’t improve.

What else should I ask my healthcare provider?

If you have IBS symptoms, ask your provider:

  • Could another condition be causing my symptoms?
  • What medications can help?
  • What foods should I avoid?
  • What other lifestyle changes should I make?
  • Can a dietitian help me?
  • Should I see a gastroenterologist?
  • When will I start to feel better?
  • Am I at risk for other health conditions?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Living with irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, can be challenging. IBS symptoms, such as stomach pain, diarrhea, gas and bloating, often interfere with your life. But IBS is manageable. Though there is no cure, you can control and improve symptoms through diet and lifestyle changes. If you have stomach symptoms that aren’t going away, talk to your healthcare provider. Together, you can find an IBS treatment plan that works for you.

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