What You Do Not Know About Irritable Bowel Syndrome Can Affect Your Health
The mistakes patients and physicians make.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a benign disease. You cannot die from IBS, so treatment is not necessary.
People with IBS have substantially more surgery than people without irritable bowel syndrome. They are three times more likely to have gallbladder surgery than those without irritable bowel syndrome. They are twice as likely to have the appendix removed and twice as likely to have hysterectomy. Imagine having the uterus, gallbladder, or appendix removed unnecessarily because of irritable bowel syndrome. Even back surgery is 50% more common in IBS patients. This is a lot of surgery for benign disease and each of these operations has risks. The patients desperately want relief from their suffering and discomfort. Physicians who do not understand IBS will perform tests, until something abnormal is found, and then they will proceed to try to fix that finding. 25% of patients having gallbladder removed have the same symptoms after surgery as before.
IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion. We need a lot of tests to make sure nothing else is wrong.
Often, people go through labs, colonoscopy, x-rays, CT scans, endoscopy of the stomach, and other tests to evaluate the irritable bowel syndrome. After months of testing, the patient is informed that nothing is found, and the treatment is not necessary. Perhaps they are advised to increase the fiber in their diet, given a script for tranquilizers and antispasmodics, such as Librax, and advised to take Metamucil. The doctor’s agenda is to ensure that there is no cancer or other “serious” disorder. The patient’s agenda is to feel well. In fact, IBS is not a diagnosis of exclusion. 98% of patients coming to see me at the Center for Irritable Bowel Syndrome can have an accurate diagnosis on the first visit. At the Center for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, treatment is initiated concurrently to evaluation. Delay in treatment in many centers undermines the patient’s interests in getting well. The doctors believe that the patient has no serious malady, and the frustrated patient feels unimproved without relief of symptoms. Colonoscopy, CT scans, barium studies are not needed to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome. They can be used in patients with signs of blood loss, weight loss, signs of inflammation, or patients who are at risk for colon cancer.
It is all in your head.
Irritable bowel syndrome is a real disorder, with real diagnostic features, clinical manifestations, and complications. For decades, tranquilizers were the main treatment options used by most physicians. Even today, the patients come to me having been prescribed Librax (chlordiazepoxide/clidinium), or Donnatal (phenobarbital/belladonna). These addictive agents are ineffective in the treatment of IBS, but are sedating and have drug interactions with other medications. Used over a long-term on a regular basis they are highly addictive. Such treatment is irresponsible. Yet, there is a brain-gut connection which I will explore with you in other articles.
Eat more fiber.
Fiber is indeed a good treatment for mild irritable bowel syndrome, but if you are frustrated the fiber has only added to your gas and provided no relief, you are in the majority. Fiber, antispasmodics, and tranquilizers comprise the traditional, ineffective and frustrating therapies for irritable bowel syndrome. Dr. Gutman and the Center for Irritable Bowel Syndrome have participated in studies of several new agents for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. We offer over a dozen individualized treatment options, ranging from dietary, medication, naturopathic or herbal options.
There is nothing wrong with you. The tests are normal.
Irritable bowel syndrome is the leading cause of disability, after back pain. It is a leading cause of absenteeism from work in school, decreased work performance (called presenteeism), due to pain and bathroom breaks. Patients often will avoid social functions or restaurants, public transportation, travel. Sexual dysfunction is a major complaint. The diagnostic tests such as colonoscopy cannot clarify those losses of quality of life. A physician, expert at the evaluation of irritable bowel syndrome, such as Dr. Gutman can address these life-altering changes.
Photo By: Mike Baird [xyz-ihs snippet=”Photobycc”]