Q: I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) 8 years ago and I am no closer to understanding why I have this problem. Do I have to just live with it?
Laxatives for constipation, anti-diarrhea medications, and antacid pills are not the answer for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Over the last 20 years I have helped hundreds of patients become free from the troublesome symptoms of IBS without using medication to mask symptoms. IBS is characterized by abdominal pain or bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea, gas, nausea, and is often accompanied by varying degrees of anxiety or depression. Since many other conditions can mimic IBS, I first make sure to rule out more serious diseases like cancer, colitis and ovarian cancer. Then I interview, examine, and test my patient until I have an idea as to the real, underlying cause of their symptoms.
There are several potential causes of IBS that affect people in varying degrees. The most common cause of IBS that I have observed clinically is food allergies or intolerances. With proper identification of offending foods and coaching to change the diet, many of my patients have found lasting relief from their symptoms. New research shows that IBS is commonly caused by disturbances in the bacteria that line the intestine, called the microbiome. These imbalances can be corrected with the right interventions. Some people with IBS have trouble digesting certain starches and artificial sweeteners. Often IBS is a result of a poorly functioning upper digestive system. If the stomach lacks adequate hydrochloric acid, foods are not broken down properly and can cause symptoms in the lower digestion. IBS can occur after having gall bladder surgery since bile is now able to drip into the intestine in an unregulated fashion. The intestines become irritated by the bile which can cause IBS. So there is no need to suffer for years. Address the root cause of IBS and you’ll be free from this challenging condition.