It is estimated that up to 15 percent of people have irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. Of those, about 25 percent have symptoms that are severe enough to interfere with their life. While chronic, IBS doesn't directly cause other diseases and disorders, such as cancer or inflamed bowel. Someone with IBS can still develop new and serious bowel issues, but it may be difficult for them to spot the symptoms because they are similar to those of IBS. If you have IBS, you need to know the warning signs of serious bowel disease so you can talk to your doctor about them. Watch for the following three symptom scenarios.
If you have lost weight without trying to, you should talk to your doctor because it can point to something more serious than IBS. While small fluctuations in weight are normal, they should not be significant or severe enough for you to notice. You should not lose weight with IBS. If your clothes start feeling loose, you've lost a significant amount of weight and need to be checked out further.
If you start bleeding from the rectum or passing bloody stools, you need to make an appointment with your doctor. Rectal bleeding can be a sign of colitis or cancer, so don't put off talking about it because you're embarrassed or scared. People with IBS also tend to develop internal hemorrhoids, which are harmless but can cause bleeding. Chances are, any bleeding may be attributed to hemorrhoids, but you never know. It's better to be safe than sorry. Since the risk for colon cancer is increased in people over the age of 50, you should pay especially close attention to bleeding if you are older.
IBS symptoms may haunt you daily, but you shouldn't worry about them overmuch unless they start changing. For example, if your symptoms start waking you up in the middle of the night or if you notice a difference in the severity or location of your pain, you should talk to your doctor. Also, if you notice any other types of changes, such as a change in the frequency of attacks, you should bring them to the attention of your doctor.
IBS is a chronic condition that may cause you pain and other symptoms daily. However, more serious diseases also have many of the same symptoms of IBS. If you have IBS, don't ignore new or worrisome symptoms. Always talk to your family medicine doctor about them.