Should you go to the ER for IBS symptoms?

The emergency care doctors at Regional Medical Center of San Jose have made it their life’s work to care for the health of our neighbors in the community. ER doctors can provide rapid and appropriate relief to patients who are in severe pain from IBS. When you watch the accompanying video, you’ll hear one of our dedicated emergency medicine physicians discuss the abdominal symptoms that warrant a trip to the ER.

Judging the severity of your IBS symptoms
Patients with irritable bowel syndrome can experience flare-ups of the following symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Gas and bloating
  • Abdominal pain and cramping

You have a unique pain threshold. Only you can determine when your abdominal pain is severe enough to call for a visit to the ER. In general, it may be time to go to the hospital if:

  • Your pain is severe enough to disrupt normal functioning
  • Over-the-counter medicines aren’t helping
  • Your pain grows worse instead of better
  • Your pain is accompanied by other new or severe symptoms

Identifying the signs of dehydration
If you have IBS with diarrhea, you may be at risk of dehydration. You’ll need emergency care if you experience dehydration that is severe enough to cause any of the following:

  • Very dark urine
  • Little to no urine
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Lightheadedness

Preparing for a visit to the ER
You can get the best outcome by communicating clearly with the ER physicians and nurses. They’ll need to know that you’ve already been diagnosed with IBS.

If possible, try to get in touch with your primary care physician ahead of your ER visit. Ask your doctor to let the ER staff know that an IBS patient is headed in for emergency intervention.

Alternatively, you can ask your primary doctor to provide a signed note indicating that you have IBS, and explaining the approved ER interventions, such as pain medications. Remember to bring a list of your medications and their dosages.

In addition to our responsive emergency care, Regional Medical Center of San Jose offers specialized gastroenterology services for patients with complex digestive disorders, including IBS. Our highly trained physicians and nurses work closely with each patient to develop a personalized treatment plan. Call (888) 762-8881 to request a referral to a physician in San Jose.

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