No one knows the exact reason for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a digestive disorder that affects up to 15% of Americans. It causes belly pain, cramps, and bloating, as well as diarrhea and constipation.
The one thing that experts are certain about: Your gender plays a role. Women are about twice as likely to have IBS as men. A growing body of research shows that sex hormones, like estrogen and progesterone, may be the reason. They can trigger IBS symptoms, which may explain why you have more...
People with alternating IBS symptoms should not try to treat themselves, says J. Patrick Waring, MD, a gastroenterologist at Digestive Health Care of Georgia.
"They should not take something for their constipation on their own, and then when they get diarrhea, take something for their diarrhea, and go back and forth," he says. "That can actually exacerbate the problem."
SOURCES: J. Patrick Waring, MD, gastroenterologist, Digestive Health Care of Georgia. Medscape.com: "Diagnosis, Pathophysiology, and Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome," and "Consensus Report: Clinical Trial Guidelines for Pharmacological Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome." American College of Gastroenterology.