GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)– About 12 percent of people in the United States have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, according to the National Institutes of Health.

It often requires long-term treatment.

As part of our “Ask the Expert” series, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis, 7 News Anchor Taylor Murray, spoke with a family medicine physician about how to effectively treat IBS.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common disorder that affects the large intestine also known as your colon.

Dr. Sanjana Iddyadinesh, a family medicine physician, says symptoms can be troublesome and uncomfortable.

“Patient starts experiencing abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, bloating, and cramping.”

Dr. Sanjana Iddyadinesh, Family Medicine Physician, Bon Secours St. Francis

Some people are more at risk for IBS than others.

“The people most at risk are female more than male, under the age of 50, and people who have a family history of IBS,” Sanjana Iddyadinesh said.

It can be difficult to diagnose, but there are things doctors see as red flags.

“Like recurrent abdominal pain, at least like on average of like one day per week in the last three months. So, that’s one of the main things that we look at. On top of that…. abdominal pain that is related to like them having a bowel movement,” Sanjana Iddyadinesh said.

Some people can control their symptoms by managing their lifestyle and stress.

Making dietary changes, like limiting sugar intake, can also help.

“Lactose and gluten avoidance. Avoidance of like gas-producing foods…. like basically dairy-based products, like milk, yogurt, ice cream– things like that. Also, avoiding like wheat-based products, cereal, bread, crackers, etc., beans and lentils, because they produce gas and make the symptoms worse,” Sanjana Iddyadinesh said.

Those with more severe symptoms can be treated with medication.

“We recommend medications like anti-spasmodic medications for the spasms that cause the pain in their abdomen. We also recommend anti-constipation/diarrhea and like fibers for constipation,” Sanjana Iddyadinesh said.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a condition that many will need to manage long-term.

Dr. Iddyadinesh says it does not cause any changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer.

To submit a health topic for our Ask the Expert series, click here.