Wednesday, February 6, 2008

A brief IBS primer

When the whole PFD diagnosis hit me like a ton of bricks, I was told by a couple medical professionals that it sounds like I have IBS. I was asked to allow physical therapy to continue before trying any other meds or doctors for this so that we could see if it would help the symptoms--basically whether it was the chicken or the egg needed to be determined.

In the meantime, though, I've been doing some IBS research (which has been very enlightening) and I came across this quick and dirty IBS article.


Irritable bowel syndrome cause still eludes doctors

There are treatments but no cure for the mysterious and painful abdominal disease.

By Jodi Mailander Farrell


February 6, 2008

Five Things You Didn't Know About ... Irritable Bowel Syndrome:

1. A stormy stomach: IBS is a common disorder that causes abdominal cramping, along with diarrhea and/or constipation. It affects the colon, the part of the digestive tract that stores stool. Although it can be painful, IBS doesn't damage the colon, nor does it lead to other health problems.

2. It's not in your head: Although doctors still aren't sure what causes it, they no longer believe it's a somatic or mental disorder, a common theory before the 1990s. Some research suggests it's caused by an as-yet undiscovered active infection, a theory supported by a recent study that found the antibiotic Rifaximin provides some relief.

Others believe IBS is a result of overgrowth of intestinal flora and the antibiotics are effective in reducing the overgrowth.

3. The female factor: Women are more likely to have IBS and often have more symptoms during their menstrual periods. Women with IBS also anticipate and react to pain differently than women without it, suggests a new study published in the Jan. 9 issue of the journal Neuroscience.

University of California researchers found that women with IBS can't effectively switch off a pain modulation mechanism in the brain, which makes them more sensitive to abdominal pain.

4. Diagnosis: Doctors look for specific symptoms and often use a blood test, barium X-ray, colonoscopy or other medical tests to make sure other health problems — parasites, gastrointestinal infections, food allergies, lactose intolerance and celiac disease — aren't causing the problem.

5. Treatment: There is no known cure.

Treatment to reduce symptoms involves diet changes, medicine and stress relief. Some drinks and fatty foods — French fries, milk products, chocolate, alcohol, caffeinated drinks and carbonated drinks — make IBS worse. Some doctors suggest laxatives, antispasmodics and antidepressants. Lotronex is the only prescription drug approved by the FDA for use in female patients with IBS (clinical research doesn't support its use for men), but it's prescribed only in extreme cases because its use has been associated with hospitalizations, blood transfusions, surgery and death. Lotronex was pulled from the market in 2000 then re-approved in 2002.