2. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Though the causes of IBS are vague, it has become one of the most common lower bowel complaints, especially among women under 40. According to gastroenterologist Robert Enns, MD, IBS is associated with bowels that work too quickly or too slowly, or sometimes merely with discomfort. “Nobody really knows what causes it,” he says. There is effective medication to treat IBS, but Dr. Enns recommends patients modify their lifestyles first by managing stress and avoiding things like caffeine and foods high in saturated fat. Prinsen says it’s hard to prescribe a one-size-fits-all treatment for IBS because it is associated with so many symptoms. However, he often recommends testing for food sensitivities, which can set off a negative chain reaction in the body. He says that sometimes the problem can even be related to a functional liver problem, which may be the result of suppressing anger, frustration or resentment, or from consuming too much alcohol.