IBS Treatment Center

Seattle, WA

Get out of the bathroom and get back to your life!

The Connection Between IBS & Stress

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Dr. Stephen WangenIf you have been diagnosed with IBS, it is likely that you have been advised to reduce your stress level.

You may have been told to get regular exercise and adequate sleep, and to practice stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation, tai chi, deep breathing, journal writing, relaxation therapy, biofeedback, hypnotherapy, or psychotherapy.

All of these practices can indeed improve physical, mental, and emotional health. They provide a host of benefits, from improved personal relationships to enhanced productivity to increased energy and mental clarity, and they just might help with your IBS symptoms.

But chances are they won’t cure your IBS.

Most physicians are trained to think of IBS as stress induced or as a type of psychosomatic disorder. Because there has not been an easy medication cure for IBS, it has been framed in a way that suggests that it is more your problem than the physicians. Although some cases of IBS are no doubt related to mental or emotional issues, and stress and anxiety can aggravate IBS (as well as most other medical conditions), they are not the predominant causes of IBS. More often, IBS causes you stress rather than the other way around.

Medicine has a long history of blaming medical conditions with no straightforward, obvious organic cause on some form of psychological disturbance, such as stress – only to discover later the organic cause of the problem. One excellent recent example of this is stomach ulcers. While stomach ulcers were once thought to be a stress-induced disorder, it is now well accepted that the bacteria Helicobacter pylori cause them, and that they are treatable.  Interestingly H. pylori can also cause IBS symptoms, and now that we can test for it and treat it, there is one more reason to believe that stress is too often blamed.

It is true that stress can make the symptoms of IBS worse, and that your digestive system depends on relaxation to function properly. Occasionally stress is the sole cause of IBS. But far more often it is due to something else. If you still have symptoms when you know that there isn’t much stress, then there is more to the problem than stress!

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IBS and Difficulty Gaining Weight

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Dr. Stephen WangenThe inability to lose weight as well as the inability to gain weight are frequently two sides of the same coin. Food allergies and sensitivities, gastrointestinal bacterial infections, yeast, and parasites can all interfere with your ability to break down and absorb nutrients properly, and this can result in weight loss and/or difficulty in maintaining weight.

Having difficulty gaining weight may seem like a good problem to have, but people with this challenge find it very frustrating. When your body has a poor relationship with food, you may be able to eat all you want, but the food isn’t being assimilated.

This problem is further exacerbated if you have symptoms such as diarrhea, which is another sign that your body isn’t processing nutrients well (malabsorption).

For some people with food allergies or intolerances, the reaction can be so severe that they can’t get enough nutrition to sustain themselves from the food that they eat. This is surprisingly common, and these patients are often blamed for not eating enough or are told that they have an eating disorder. However, many of these patients eat far more than average and don’t have any problems with their desire to eat or to keep food down. They can’t get help, because no one believes them. Worse yet, other people even go so far as to say they wish they had the same problem.

As you can imagine, people with this issue are trying to gain weight. Frequently this means that they are eating lots of bread products, baked goods, and processed foods, which of course are full of food allergens. They may also be using popular commercial weight gain products. And what do those products usually contain? A hefty dose of common food allergens.

A perfect example of a popular weight gain product is Ensure. Most Ensure products contain large amounts of dairy, soy, and corn, three things that many people who need to gain weight should not be ingesting. Many patients describe feeling worse when they try to use Ensure.

Another major aspect of digestion is the ecosystem within your digestive tract, which is filled with trillions of bacteria. These bacteria play an integral role in digestion. If you don’t have the right kind of bacteria, or if you have yeast (Candida) or parasites, then you won’t digest your food properly. The good news is that all of these things can be tested, including your “good” bacteria.

When we work with patients who are having trouble with their weight, we always evaluate them for food allergies and intolerances as well as for bacteria, yeast, and parasites. Once we figure out the source of their problem, we can find a treatment plan that really works. Patients are amazed at the results. Many people find that they can gain weight just by avoiding the foods that were preventing them from absorbing nutrients.

If you are struggling with a weight issue and your body isn’t responding to the usual solutions, don’t give up. Keep investigating. Be honest with yourself about your diet and your exercise level. Then consider the possibility that something else is getting in the way of you realizing your goals, and let us help you find out what it is.

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Stress & IBS

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staff2I always had a nervous stomach my whole life, but it was nothing serious until part-way through college when I started having some major digestive problems.

I was beginning to feel like I was falling apart, and my anxiety worsened as my symptoms worsened. But most of the time I thought the anxiety was causing the symptoms and I was just trying to live with it. I always had an escape route to the nearest bathroom scouted out.

I saw several conventional doctors [who couldn’t help me], so I decided to see a gastroenterologist. He told me that there’s not much that can be done about it. He told me to reduce my stress, and gave me a list of foods to eat that are rich in fiber. I tried these things, but it hardly made any difference. So I turned to alternative medicine and tried homeopathy, supplements, acupuncture, and an elimination diet…but none of those worked either.

I did some more research and found the IBS Treatment Center online. I decided to take the chance, and I am so glad I did. I’ve been telling people that it was the best money I’ve ever spent! I was so impressed with the whole operation.

Amanda McLean

Stress Reduction

It’s a common belief that you carry your stress in your abdomen. If you have been diagnosed with IBS, it is likely that you have been advised to reduce your stress level. You may have been told to get regular exercise and adequate sleep, and to practice stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation, tai chi, deep breathing, journal writing, relaxation therapy, biofeedback, hypnotherapy, or psychotherapy.

All of these practices can indeed improve physical, mental, and emotional health. They provide a host of benefits, from improved personal relationships to enhanced productivity to increased energy and mental clarity, and they just might help with your IBS symptoms.
But chances are they won’t cure your IBS.

Most physicians are trained to think of IBS as stress induced or as a type of psychosomatic disorder. Because there has not been an easy medication cure for IBS, it has been framed in a way that suggests that it is more your problem than the physicians. Although some cases of IBS are no doubt related to mental or emotional issues, and stress and anxiety can aggravate IBS (as well as most other medical conditions), they are not the predominant causes of IBS. More often, IBS causes you stress rather than the other way around.

Medicine has a long history of blaming medical conditions with no straightforward, obvious organic cause on some form of psychological disturbance, such as stress – only to discover later the organic cause of the problem.

It is true that stress can make the symptoms of IBS worse, and that your digestive system depends on relaxation to function properly. Occasionally stress is the sole cause of IBS. But far more often it is due to something else. If you still have symptoms when you know that there isn’t much stress, then there is more to the problem than stress!

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Understanding the True Costs of Your Healthcare

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(img thanks to commons.wikimedia)

(img thanks to commons.wikimedia)

A recent article from Bankrate.com highlights the fact that most doctors and healthcare providers have no idea what your financial responsibility will be for your treatment. This means you won’t know what getting healthy will cost until the bills come in the mail.

“In many cases, a patient won’t know the actual cost of care until after that care is delivered, which can lead to surprise medical bills and unwanted debt that can affect your credit score.”

The IBS Treatment Center is different. We tell you exactly what your care will cost and why it will cost that amount. We believe that transparency in healthcare is a key aspect to the best treatment.

Learn more about the IBS Treatment Center and its policies HERE.

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IBS Treatment Center Seattle – Meet the Staff

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staff2Dr. Stephen Wangen (third from left), co-founder of the IBS Treatment Center, has been successfully helping people resolve irritable bowel syndrome and chronic digestive problems since 1999.

This success culminated in the 2005 opening of the IBS Treatment Center, the first clinic in the nation to focus solely on addressing this debilitating condition. In conjunction with the new clinic, Dr. Wangen also released his first book, The Irritable Bowel Syndrome Solution.

Over the years the IBS Treatment Center has cared for a wide variety of patients.  Some patients have had IBS symptoms so severe that they spent a considerable amount of time in the hospital. Others are simply frustrated with the impact that it is having on their lives.  The thread that tied them all together was that they had never seen an IBS expert, nor gotten the right kinds of testing and treatment to identify and resolve the issues causing their IBS.  The IBS Treatment Center is proud to have cured thousands of these patients.

Although the clinics are located in Seattle, Washington and Santa Monica, California, patients come to us from around the country and the world (locations listed below). Over 50 million people in the United States suffer from IBS, and the map below gives you an idea about how far people will travel to have this condition properly addressed.  They have come from every state in the US other than South Dakota, and from every occupied continent on earth!

Come see us and get your life back!

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How Can a Nutritionist Help Your IBS?

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Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 10.38.00 AM
How Our Nutritionist Can Help You!

At the IBS Treatment Center, our commitment to your health doesn’t end when you walk out the door. Our doctors often recommend new dietary plans and we understand that our clients may need extra support as they transition their eating habits. To serve you better and give you the best service possible, we have added a staff nutritionist to our team.

We are pleased to announce Becky Rajcich, RD has joined us to help our clients reach new levels of satisfaction with their health and their foods! Becky can help you build a practical plan based on your IBS doctor’s recommendations so you can manage each meal of the day and start feeling better sooner. As our in-house Registered Dietitian, she has the ideal advantage of working closely with both you and your doctor.

Becky’s food philosophy is that everyone has the right to eat food that supports their bodies and tastes good. She specializes in taking challenging nutritional needs and breaking them down into simple, practical plans that can be incorporated into everyday life. With Becky’s help, you can achieve greater satisfaction with your food choices, regardless of your dietary requirements and goals.

Becky is also able to seamlessly combine the requirements of your unique diet with any other objectives you wish to accomplish.

Additionally, she has an excellent understanding of food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities. Becky will combine this information with other needs, such as diabetes, Candida, weight loss, weight gain, cardiovascular disease, and eating disorders. She can provide you the practical support and education that you need to feel more comfortable with your diet, and do meal planning with you or provide you with recipes if that is needed.

Becky is also available for specific dietary analysis to make sure that you are getting the nutrients that you need for optimal health.

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Backpacker Finds Hope with IBS Cure

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hSusan loves to hike and backpack in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, her IBS has been preventing her from enjoying the great outdoors.

When she first came to us at the IBS Treatment Center, she told us that her goal was to hike the Wonderland Trail.  This is a very strenuous and involved trip, and there are no bathrooms for days on end.

Susan felt that there really wasn’t much hope for doing that because she had been having digestive problems for so long and had seen so many other doctors, but we felt differently. We were excited that Susan had a goal, and wholeheartedly supported her in her mission to conquer one of the famous backpacking trips in our state.

We let Susan know that there was an excellent chance that she would be able to reach her goal.  And now we are thrilled to report that Susan is planning the trip of a lifetime!  She is going to hike the entire Wonderland trail this summer with her husband to celebrate her feeling better.  The Wonderland trail is a 93 mile (150 km), 11 day trip that circumnavigates majestic Mt. Rainier, one of the tallest peaks in the United States.  We wish we were going with her.  Have a great time Susan!  And please send us pictures!

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Patient Curious if IBS Treatment Center is Right Fit

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Innate Health GroupQuestion from a recent patient before coming to see us.

“I have been diagnosed with IBS. I am not sure I am a candidate for your center as I have been through a number of trails already from antibiotics, probiotics, enzymes, to detoxifying complexes. I have also been on the Low Fodmap diet since January, and have  eliminated soy, dairy, beans and gluten (though I do not have Celiac). I also do not have Colitis, Crohns, or cancer.

My main symptom that causes my distress is gas, though I have diarrhea too. But the diarrhea I don’t really let bother me, it is just a norm and I usually know when it will come, in time to take care of it. What I would really like to figure out is how do I eat out? How am I going to travel to Europe? Will I ever enjoy Italian, Mexican or pizza again?”

From Dr. Stephen Wangen:

“I am really glad that you contacted us because you are exactly the kind of person that we love to work with and the kind of person that we routinely work with.

Our doctors would like to see the lab work that you’ve had done and review all of the treatments and diets that you’ve done as well. Our goal is the same as yours, to help you figure out exactly what the problem is and the appropriate appropriate treatment for you to get back out in the world doing the things you want to do, like traveling. We won’t just repeat the things that you’ve already had done.

Once our doctors know your complete history and understand it better, then they’ll be able to tell you what is missing and guide you on a path that is much more likely to sort out your problem.  It’s not a guessing game. IBS is our specialty, and solving it requires an IBS specialist.  We also have a wonderful dietitian who will be able to assist you with this process, but you’ll definitely want to see one of our doctors first.  I encourage you to call our office at 206-264-1111 to schedule an appointment.”

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Patient Sees Blood Pressure Drop from Healing IBS

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Dr. Stephen WangenFrom the IBS Treatment Center’s Dr. Stephen Wangen:

I wanted to share a great story from a recent patient at the Center.

An 85 year old gentleman came to see us because of his ongoing struggles IBS.

People of all ages come to the Center, (including a recent patient who was in her 90s), so this isn’t entirely unusual. In fact, this means that they haven’t given up and that they want to live life!  We are on their side. There is NO reason that age should prevent you from curing your IBS.

Like most of our patients, this patient’s IBS got better. But that’s not even the best part of the story. Because of the changes in his lifestyle, his blood pressure also improved (we’ve seen this before). But he was on blood pressure medications and therefore his blood pressure went too low before he was able to decrease the dose, resulting in a light-headed feeling and risk of passing out one day. He had to go to the hospital and then was in a convalescent home during his recovery. That sounds bad, but he said that because his digestion was so good he made many friends while he was recovering, and was the life of the party!

IBS gone, blood pressure drastically improved, and friend count way up.  The journey isn’t always what we’d expect, but we’re thrilled he’s feeling better and happy. That is what I call a very successful patient outcome!

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Patient Couldn’t Use Seatbelt Because of IBS Discomfort

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Dr. Stephen WangenThis story comes from a recent patient of the IBS Treatment Center. Her name has been changed to protect her privacy.

Stacy came to the IBS Treatment Center because she had terrible abdominal pain and bloating. She hadn’t been able to enjoy being outdoors or her favorite hobby (gardening).

Stacy was especially anxious because even wearing a seat belt was causing her a lot of discomfort, not to mention just being stuck in a car.

It was so problematic that she would regularly go without a seat belt, which is certainly not advisable. Her first goal was to feel well enough to be able to wear her seat belt.

After working with Stacy, doing the proper testing and follow up work, she is now feeling much better and can finally drive comfortably and do it in a much safer manner, because she is comfortable wearing her seat belt again.

She is also happier (ecstatic actually!) that she can now do some gardening again and is looking forward to much more in the future!

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Dancer Overcomes IBS Struggles

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(wikipedia.org)

(wikipedia.org)

A recent patient at the IBS Treatment Center in Seattle.

Jennifer is a competitive dancer.  She has IBS along with daily nausea and reflux.

Additionally, Jennifer was finding it more and more difficult to keep up with her love of dance because of her horrible symptoms.  They just kept getting worse, to the point that her team couldn’t count on her to be able to perform. She often had to leave practice and go home early because dancing would make her symptoms even worse.

This not only affected Jennifer, but everyone else in her dance group as well. After all, she was responsible for the choreography and was the leader of her dance group.

Jennifer came to us because she could no longer tolerate the disruption to her life. She wanted to get back to doing the things that she loved, especially dance!   She had been to many other doctors, had lots of test, and seen a highly respected gastroenterologist. However, they had all said the same thing, that she would have to live with this.

When we first saw Jennifer she was distraught.  She told us that we were her last hope.  But we had some good news for her.
We were confident that we’d be able to help her get back to her passion of dancing.

After only 2 months Jennifer feels dramatically different.  She is already back enjoying her dance class and is once again leading her group in competitions.  We are so thrilled to have been able to help her get her life back.

Way to go Jennifer!

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Patient Medicare Questions

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Dr. Stephen WangenA recent Medicare question from a prospective patient.

“Hello,

Can you please tell me whether you accept Medicare?  My father, who is in his 70’s, has had debilitating IBS for many decades and no doctor has been able to help him in the long term.  I would like to send him your information, and it would be helpful to know what his out-of-pocket costs would be.  He lives in Arizona so may need a pre-consultation over the phone first.”

Response from Dr. Stephen Wangen.

“We would be happy to work with your father. We commonly see patients who have had long term IBS, have seen many doctors, and have not gotten results elsewhere.  Medicare has been known to reimburse some of our patients, but it can take significant work. We are direct pay at the time of service.  You will discuss all potential charges with the doctor. You are in complete control. We provide you with the documents you need to submit an insurance claim to Medicare.  A typical first office visit is just $245 for 35 minutes with the doctor. If you would like more time or are coming from out of town we recommend a 50 minute consult for $350.

Any tests or treatments will be discussed between him and the doctor once the doctor has a complete understanding of his history and his problem. You are under no obligation to do anything else. Total costs for everything we provide, before insurance reimbursement, are generally less than $1,500 (fifteen hundred dollars). Most patients pay less for everything they do with us than the cost of a single colonoscopy.
We would also be  happy to provide a pre-consultation before he makes the trip out. A pre-consultation is 10 minutes by phone or skype with a doctor and is just $70, which is then deducted from his first visit when he becomes a patient. When he does come, he only needs to come to the clinic in person one time. His follow-up consultations can also be via phone or skype.”

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Motorcyclist Able to Ride Again After Curing IBS

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(via creative commons)

Alex recently visited the IBS Treatment Center for help improving his digestion.

His biggest frustration is that he has not been able to ride his motorcycle in many years,  other than for just a quick jaunt around the corner. He couldn’t trust his bowels and always had to know the location of every bathroom – not a good scenario for riding a motorcycle.

After working the the IBS Treatment Center, Alex now reports that this past month he was able to ride for over 4 hours at a time!  He made an overnight trip across the state with his buddies, and despite the fact that they were in the middle of nowhere, he didn’t feel the need to look for the bathroom. He covered more than 500 miles without any accidents or even any discomfort.

Alex, says about his experience prior to coming to the IBS Treatment Center:  “I felt like a Guinea pig working with 2 other hospitals to get my life back.  Finally, I am getting somewhere.  I am extremely happy with the results I am getting from my treatment.”

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Patient’s Non-stop Acid Reflux Continues Despite Efforts to Improve Diet

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(photo: creativecommons)

(photo: creativecommons)

“My non-stop acid reflux continues despite my efforts to drastically improve my diet.  I work with nutritionists and naturopathic consultants, and take excellent vitamins and supplements per their recommendations.  I am following the Specific Carbohydrate diet about 90% of the time.  I also just had a 24-hour PH Metry test done, but got so sick in recovery that I couldn’t keep hardly any foods down for those 24 hours.  So, the study showed that I technically do not have reflux, and now my doctors think I am just imagining the symptoms.  The study also showed my esophagus to be in great condition.

I know I’m not imagining the pain and discomfort. I can’t well sleep at night, and almost all foods seem to bother me.  Something else has to be going on.  I would love to get your help if indeed you think his case is applicable to your services.  Please let me know. I am desperate for assistance!!!”

Response from Dr. Stephen Wangen:

Thank you for contacting us. Yes, we absolutely do treat GERD and would be happy to work with you.

In our experience most people aren’t imagining their symptoms, and I’m sure that you are capable of recognizing when you are experiencing discomfort. As you stated, something else must be going on. We would be happy to work with you to try to sort this out. GERD, reflux, and heartburn all fall into the realm of conditions which we frequently see and treat, so hopefully we can help you as well.

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Patient Questions on Insurance

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gI_SignImage.jpgA recent question to our office.

Dear IBS treatment center,

I have heard many wonderful things about your center from a family member who is a nurse.

I have also been doing lots of diagnostics on my bowels with my care provider (including a recent colonoscopy) which turned up everything normal. I have been very happy with the care that I have received from her and her clinic, but still have questions/issues…as the gas and loose bowels continue (at times).

Anyway, i am interested in scheduling an appointment but have to ask about the costs/insurance.

Reply from the IBS Treatment Center:

Thank you for contacting us. We would be happy to work with you and answer any questions that you have.

We are direct pay at the time of service. We are considered “out of network,” and most patients do get reimbursement from their insurance company.

If you have questions about your “out of network” coverage, please check your policy or contact your insurance company.

A typical first office visit is just $245 for 35 minutes with the doctor. If you would like more time or are coming from out of town we recommend a 50 minute consult for $350.

Any tests or treatments will be discussed between you and the doctor once the doctor has a complete understanding of your history and your problem. However, you are under no obligation to do anything else. Total costs for everything we provide, before insurance reimbursement, are generally less than $1,500 (fifteen hundred dollars), which is less than most people spend on a colonoscopy.


We routinely see patients like you who have had the usual workups, seen a gastroenterologist, and have been through a colonoscopy yet everything is coming back normal. Those are wonderful tools for ruling out other problems. Our specialty is in helping people solve the symptoms that you are still experiencing.  We look forward to being able to work with you.

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Out of Town Patient Learns That One Trip to IBS Treatment Center Can Change Her Life

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536074_303001446438774_1933602105_nIt’s hard to believe that it’s been close to a year since I traveled to Seattle.

Nearly a year later, I AM DOING SO GOOD!!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!


Perhaps you’re thinking to yourself that this is just another success story – but, trust me this success is HUGE. My friends, family and local docs are all amazed and somewhat in awe of how much I’ve changed over the past year. Everyone says that I just LOOK healthier these days.


When I think back to how miserable my life was before and how limited I was in considering future plans, I get a bit emotional just thinking about it all. It’s truly been a transformation.

Susan Saint Vincent, Colorado

Although the clinics are located in Seattle, Washington and Santa Monica California, patients often come to us from around the USA and well beyond. Over 50 million people in the United States suffer from IBS, and the map below gives you an idea about how far people will travel to have this condition properly addressed.

We regularly help people from around the country and beyond successfully resolve their irritable bowel syndrome and chronic digestive problems and get back to living their lives. Patients like you, coming from out of town, generally only need to physically come to the clinic once.

The initial visit ensures that your condition is thoroughly evaluated with a physical exam and an extended face-to-face meeting so that you can really communicate with the doctor. During that first visit you and your doctor will choose the testing appropriate to your condition and begin that testing. Then you can return home. Follow up is conducted remotely. Most patients are able to get back to living life on their own terms after just a few consultations.

Preconsultation Phone Appointment! Interested in talking to the doctor before you make the trip and become a patient? A 10 minute pre-consultation phone (or Skype) appointment with the doctor is available – just call us at 206-264-1111. If you are outside the USA and Canada, email us to set this up.

If you have any questions or would like assistance, just ask the receptionist when you call to make your appointment. Our toll free phone number is 1-888-546-6283.

We urge you to consider working us into your travel plans. Hundreds of patients have traveled from all over the world to see us and now live without IBS.

 

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Patient Finally Finds Cure for Heartburn

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(photo: creativecommons)

(photo: creativecommons)

From a recent patient of the IBS Treatment Center.

I wanted to send you an update. I have not once had heartburn or indigestion, both of which I’ve had since high school. I want to thank the whole team at the IBS Treatment Center for all they have done. I continually tell people about my experience with you all and encourage others to make an appointment. You all do such amazing work and I hope that you continue to do so for many year. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for sparing me years of pain, boxes of Prilosec and surgery!! I will never forget the amazing work you do!

Best,
Mallory Saffold

Whatever the name, if you are like millions of others, you are experiencing this gastrointestinal malady.

You may take your acid reflux problem for granted and buy your antacids at Costco, but you should be aware of the negative effects this has on your entire body. You also should know that heartburn is a sign of other problems, and can almost always be treated without acid blockers.

The Prevalence of Acid Reflux Disease


Acid rising from the stomach and irritating the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach, results in the feeling of what is commonly called heartburn.

Some 35 to 45 percent of the population experiences heartburn, often called GERD or “gastroesophageal reflux disease”. That’s a whopping 116 million people! It’s also the most profitably treated symptom in America. Last year, Prilosec was the top selling prescription drug in the world, earning Astra Zeneca, the drug’s maker, 6 billion dollars.

This sad state of affairs means that it is almost considered normal to have GERD and to take drugs for it. However, heartburn is far less than normal, and those experiencing it are definitely nowhere near optimal health.

Symptoms of Acid Reflux 


Acid reflux is generally felt as a burning pain in the middle of the chest. It may also feel like a pressure in the chest. In some people it can be so bad that it is difficult to keep food down and may even result in dental erosion.

Over time reflux can result in damage to the LES, called Barrett’s Esophagitis, and even cancer. 

If you have chronic heartburn or reflux then be sure to have a thorough examination by a gastroenterologist to rule out this serious conditions.

Sometimes this chest pain is confused with heart pain. If you are unsure about the cause of any pain in your chest, be sure to have a thorough exam by your doctor.

So Why Is Acid Refluxing?

There are several causes of acid reflux, but the common thread is the relaxation of the LES. Once the LES relaxes, acid is afforded the opportunity to rise from the stomach and damage the esophagus, resulting in a burning feeling.

Once the esophagus has been damaged it is very slow to heal. Antacids, histamine blockers and proton pump inhibitors only shut down acid production, they don’t promote healing of the LES, nor do they cure the cause of the heartburn.

The Myth About Heartburn

It’s commonly believed that heartburn is the result of overeating. And although 116 million Americans may overeat, the size of the meal has no scientific correlation with the frequency of heartburn. 
“Then we must be producing too much stomach acid,” you say. Having too much acid production is very rare. In fact, the opposite is the case. In most people, stomach acid decreases with age.

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Get to Know the Doctors at the IBS Treatment Center: Dr. Stephen Wangen

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Dr. Stephen WangenI was diagnosed with IBS in 1994. Unfortunately, that didn’t make any real difference in my health. So while in medical school I began to research my problem and discovered that I had celiac disease, a reaction to wheat and other common grains.

When I began practicing medicine I found that because of my personal experience with digestive problems I could not only relate to my IBS patients but really help them get to the root of their problem. Not everyone has the same trigger that I do. In fact, getting to the root cause of the problem takes some detective work.

I find that it takes quite a bit of personal attention and a good understanding of each patient to be able to properly treat most digestive issues. The standard practice of scheduling several patients at the same time and hopping from room to room after only 5-10 minutes or isn’t adequate for helping my patients.

I now schedule at least a half hour with each patient for their first visit. This allows me time to listen to the entire story about your problem, which is critical to understanding what might be causing it. It also allows me plenty of time to answer your questions, ask all of the questions I need to ask, and to convey all of the information that I want you to know so that you can successfully resolve your problem. This has made everyone happier and resulted in a very high success rate in our clinic.

If you have IBS or another chronic health problem, I appreciate your frustration with the lack of answers and the impact that it is having on your life. Please know that you are not alone, and that we are here to help you.

Sincerely,

Stephen Wangen, ND

Dr. Stephen Wangen is a state licensed and board certified physician. After graduating with honors in pre-med from Pacific Lutheran University he received his doctoral degree in naturopathic medicine from the internationally renowned Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. Dr. Wangen continues his association with Bastyr as an Affiliate Clinical Faculty member of The School of Naturopathic Medicine. In his practice Dr. Wangen specializes in digestive disorders and food allergies and has first-hand experience with these, having himself been diagnosed with gluten intolerance in 1996, as well as a dairy allergy.

Due to a long history of success in treating common digestive disorders, and the tremendous need for a clinic focused on the treatment of these and IBS symptoms, Dr. Wangen founded the IBS Treatment Center in 2005, where he serves as Medical Director. In 2013 Dr. Wangen opened a second clinic in Santa Monica, CA.

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91 Year Old IBS Patient Aims to Get Back to the Casino

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(photo: commons.wikimedia)

(photo: commons.wikimedia)

From the IBS Treatment Center’s Dr. Stephen Wangen.

Today I saw a 91 year old patient who is the mother of another patient of mine. She said that she wanted to feel better. I told her that I wanted her to feel better too, and that I thought that it was possible.

I asked her what she wanted to do when she felt better, and I laughed when she told me, “I can no longer go to the casino, and I want to be able to go the casino again.”   I said, “That is a fantastic goal. Let’s get you in shape again so that you can go to the casino!”

I don’t normally advocate going to casinos, but when you’re 91, going to the casino is a good thing!

By the way, she told me that she never loses.

Get out of the bathroom and get YOUR life back!

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Patient, “I Can’t Even Go to the Bus Stop with My Kids!”

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Dr. Stephen WangenFrom Dr. Stephen Wangen, of the IBS Treatment Center…

This week a woman came in to see me the first time.
Her words, “I can’t even go outside the house to the bus stop with my kids without worrying about my IBS.”

Remarkably, that is not the first time that I’ve heard those same words. In fact, just recently a father told me the very same thing.

People often take for granted the simple things in life, like walking their children to the bus stop.  But millions of people with IBS can’t do even those simple tasks.

I have seen parents waving to their children from the window of the house and I wonder, is it because they are afraid to go outside for fear of having an accident?

As sad as this is, ironically when patients tell me this it is an exciting moment.  I know from experience that there is tremendous hope for them! Soon they’ll be able to walk their kids to the bus stop with confidence. And that will be just the beginning.

I want every parent who can’t do that to know that they aren’t alone, and to believe that they can solve their IBS, because I’ve seen it happen so many times before.

It’s the little things like this that truly define the impact that IBS can have on ones life. These quickly ad up and rob people of the richness of life that is found from being able to do these simple tasks. And there is nothing more rewarding than seeing these people get better so that they can walk their kids to the bus stop.

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“I Can’t Even Go Outside of the House.”

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Dr. Stephen WangenFrom a recent patient at the IBS Treatment Center with Dr. Stephen Wangen.

This week a woman came in to see me for the first time.

She said, “I can’t even go outside of the house to the bus stop with my kids without worrying about my IBS.” That is so sad!

Remarkably, that is not the first time that I’ve heard those same words. In fact, recently a father told me the very same thing.

People often take for granted the simple things in life, like walking their children to the bus stop.  But millions of people with IBS can’t do even those simple tasks.

I have seen parents waving to their children from the window of the house and I wonder, is it because they are afraid to go outside for fear of having an accident?

As sad as this is, ironically when patients tell me this, it is an exciting moment.  I know from experience that there is tremendous hope for them! Soon they’ll be able to walk their kids to the bus stop with confidence. And that will be just the beginning.

I want every parent who can’t do that to know that they aren’t alone, and to believe that they can solve their IBS, because I’ve seen it happen so many times before.

It’s the little things like this that truly define the impact that IBS can have on ones life. These quickly ad up and rob people of the richness of life that is found from being able to do these simple tasks. And there is nothing more rewarding than seeing these people get better so that they can walk their kids to the bus stop.

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Patient Finally Finds Relief From Heartburn

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DigestiveSystemI wanted to send you an update. I have not once had heartburn or indigestion, both of which I’ve had since high school. I want to thank the whole team at the IBS Treatment Center for all they have done. I continually tell people about my experience with you all and encourage others to make an appointment. You all do such amazing work and I hope that you continue to do so for many year. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for sparing me years of pain, boxes of Prilosec and surgery!! I will never forget the amazing work you do!

Best,
Mallory Saffold

Acid rising from the stomach and irritating the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), the valve that separates the esophagus from the stomach, results in the feeling of what is commonly called heartburn.

Some 35 to 45 percent of the population experiences heartburn, often called GERD or “gastroesophageal reflux disease”. That’s a whopping 116 million people! It’s also the most profitably treated symptom in America. Last year, Prilosec was the top selling prescription drug in the world, earning Astra Zeneca, the drug’s maker, 6 billion dollars.

This sad state of affairs means that it is almost considered normal to have GERD and to take drugs for it. However, heartburn is far less than normal, and those experiencing it are definitely nowhere near optimal health.

Symptoms of Acid Reflux 


Acid reflux is generally felt as a burning pain in the middle of the chest. It may also feel like a pressure in the chest. In some people it can be so bad that it is difficult to keep food down and may even result in dental erosion.

Over time reflux can result in damage to the LES, called Barrett’s Esophagitis, and even cancer. 

If you have chronic heartburn or reflux then be sure to have a thorough examination by a gastroenterologist to rule out this serious conditions.

Sometimes this chest pain is confused with heart pain. If you are unsure about the cause of any pain in your chest, be sure to have a thorough exam by your doctor.

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Using Drugs to Treat IBS

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(photo: commons.wikimedia)

(photo: commons.wikimedia)

I came to the IBS Treatment Center after no one else could figure out what was wrong. I had severe abdominal pain and was on strong pain meds. Since then my pain is gone. I can’t thank them enough.Along with the resolution of my pain was the enlightenment of how food affects so many things in my general health. They enthusiasm for maintaining overall health made me much more aware of caring for myself.

Kim N.

“Nearly all medications may cause diarrhea as a side effect.” This is a direct quote from the National Institute of Health’s MedlinePlus website.

Doctors tend to believe that side-effects from medications are rare. Therefore they assume that your symptoms are not related to our medications. Many times my patients have said, “I asked my doctor if my symptoms could be caused by my medication and he said no.” They asked us for a second opinion. We simply show them the known list of side-effects for the drug they are taking. More often than not, their symptoms are right there in black and white.

Some medications are more likely to cause diarrhea than others. Some particularly problematic medications include:

• Most cholesterol lowering statin drugs, such as simvastatin, lovastatin, and Lipitor®
• Most heartburn medications including: omeprazole (Prilosec®), Nexium®, Prevacid®, pantoprazole (Protonix®), cimetidine (Tagamet®), ranitidine (Zantac®).
• Bone density medications like Fosamax®.
• Antibiotics and even NSAIDS such as ibuprofen (Advil®) and naproxen (Aleve®).
• Anything that dries you up like Allegra® or Claritin®
• Antidepressants: especially tricyclic antidepressants such as amitryptiline (Elavil®) and imipramine
• Calcium channel blockers such as such as Cardizem®, Zyrtec®, and Procardia®
• Antispasmodics: Dicyclomine® and hyoscine (Hyoscyamine®)

If you address the cause of your symptoms you will be able to discontinue the medications. Hardly any of the medications mentioned in this article cure anything. They only treat symptoms caused by a deeper problem. Solve that problem and you will feel healthy and whole again.

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Patient, “My Gastroenterologist Apologized Because He Hadn’t Taken Me Seriously.”

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Dr. Stephen WangenNow I am finally feeling like I thought I should. Even more than the treatment, I was glad that I went to the IBS Treatment Center simply because they were the first people to really listen to me and treat me like I was telling the truth. My gastroenterologist actually apologized to me because he hadn’t taken me seriously.

The IBS Treatment Center, on the other hand, was very supportive and seemed to really care if I got better. When I had an appointment, they were not trying to rush me in and out, and were willing to listen to my symptoms and look for a cause rather than handing me a prescription to get me out.

I have been so impressed that I have recommended them to several of my friends, who have all had good things to say. One of my friends called me after leaving their office and she was crying because someone actually believed her. Before seeing them, she had been told by her doctor that her symptoms were “all in her head” and had actually been referred to a psychiatrist! Now her symptoms have improved tremendously.

I would recommend them to anyone who feels sick and doesn’t know why. They will really work to find the problem!

Thanks,
Sarah

IBS Specialist and Gastroenterologist

IBS specialists are experts in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A gastroenterologist may diagnose IBS, but that will only tell you what you already know, that your bowel irritates you.

IBS specialists do not do what gastroenterologist do, and gastroenterologists do not do what IBS specialists do. These are completely different specialties. There is only a very tiny amount of overlap with regard to stool testing. But even this is extremely minor as the IBS specialist utilizes much more advanced stool analyses.

To the IBS specialist the label of IBS only serves as a starting point for further investigation, nothing more. The IBS specialist focuses on assessing and diagnosing the cause of your digestive problems, not on the gross structural integrity of the digestive tract. Rather than focusing on the patients symptoms, or simply treating the symptoms, the IBS specialist is devoted to identifying the condition or conditions in the patient that are causing the symptoms.

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Symptoms of Food Allergies

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(commons.wikimedia

(commons.wikimedia

Food allergies can cause a lot more problems than you or your doctor probably realize. After having worked with thousands of patients with food allergies, we know this to be true. Although there is plenty of published research on the symptoms of food allergies, there is also a lot of misunderstanding due to conflicting definitions of allergies; some testing methods that are scientifically invalid; and the length of time between exposure to a food and the reaction.

The following are a few of the more common conditions that we regularly see cured by avoiding a food allergen.

Headaches, including Migraines

Headaches are about inflammation. And food allergies are also about inflammation. It is not at all unusual for our patients to report that their headaches have disappeared once they know how to stop triggering them with their diet.

Ear Infections

If your child suffers from more than just the very infrequent ear infection, then they probably have a food allergy.

Kids should not get ear infections. Proper testing can reveal whether a child has a food allergy that is contributing to their susceptibility to ear infections.

Sinusitis

As with kids and ear infections, adults often get chronic sinus infections. Don’t think that it must be caused by bacteria or an environmental allergy. We regularly see chronic sinus problems that are caused by food allergies come to an end when the patient is properly diagnosed and treated.

Eczema and Hives

Whether in infants, kids, or adults, eczema and hives are often triggered by food allergies. Even if an allergist has told you that you don’t have a food allergy, you could still have one. Standard tests, including skin prick testing and RAST testing cannot measure allergies mediated by certain types of antibodies.

Acne

Yes, acne really does have a lot do with your diet. If you suffer from acne then you need to consider food allergies as a cause.

Heartburn

Heartburn isn’t just about spicy food. And it isn’t about overproducing stomach acid. Heartburn is about inflammation. Many of our patients tell us that their heartburn has resolved after having worked with us. You could be the next.

Reflux in infants

Infants reflux and throw up food because their little bodies are rejecting something, and they are rejecting it for a good reason. We can help you understand that reason and find the diet appropriate for your infant that will help your little one thrive.

Colic

Babies cry incessantly and fail to sleep because they are uncomfortable. And of course, they are uncomfortable for a reason. Let us help you figure out why. The results will speak volumes, and you’ll both sleep much better.

Joint Pain

Joint pain, whether or not it is arthritis, is often caused by food allergies. Over and over patients have told us how much better their joints are once they start avoiding their allergenic foods.

Fatigue

If your immune system is spending a lot of time fighting your food, then that is a big drain on your energy. It is not at all surprising when our patients tell us they have much more energy after learning of a food allergy and then avoiding that food. Fatigue can even be the primary symptom of a food allergy.

Anxiety/Depression

Food allergies can really drag you down, and they can make you feel less grounded. We often have patients tell us that their (or their kids) mood is better after food allergy treatment and that they don’t feel as anxious.

Muscle aches/Fibromyalgia

Muscle aches and pains are all about inflammation. There must be a cause, so why not look for it? Food allergies are often that cause.

Autoimmune diseases

Many autoimmune diseases are strongly correlated with food allergies, and often significantly improve once the foods are removed from the diet. Celiac disease is only one example.

IBS/Gas/Bloating/Constipation/Diarrhea

We spend a lot of time treating people with digestive problems. If you have one, then there is an excellent chance that a food allergy is the cause.

Frequent colds or flus

Do you seem to pick up every infection that comes along? Are you sicker than most other people around you? This is a frequent complaint of people with food allergies. If your immune system is attacking your food, then it’s not as strong at attacking infections.

If you suffer from any of these symptoms, or something that seems unrelated to food, consider the possibility that food allergies are part of the problem. Food allergies cause inflammation, and are distracting your immune system from doing what it should be doing. Don’t take our word for it, read the testimonials on our website, and come see us and find out for yourself.

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Drugs to Treat IBS

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wangenAt least 20 million Americans have been diagnosed with IBS. The drug companies are beginning to tap into this hefty target market by offering medicines aimed at relieving the symptoms of IBS. These drugs alter the physiology and ultimately the action of the digestive tract, but they do not address the underlying causes of IBS, or even claim to cure IBS. These drugs also come with an alarming variety of warnings and side effects.

Six types of drugs are used to treat the different symptoms of IBS. They include the following:

1. IBS-specific drugs to control the speed with which the bowels move (Zelnorm, Lotronex, and Calmactin),
2. Laxatives to treat constipation (such as Milk of Magnesia, Ex-Lax, Perdiem, and MiraLax),
3. Antidiarrheal agents to treat diarrhea (such as Imodium and Lomotil),
4. Antispasmodics to relive the pain from abdominal cramps (such as Donnatal, Levsin, Levbid, NuLev, Bentyl, and Pro-Banthine),
5. Antidepressants to relieve pain (such as Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft, Paxil, and Elavil), and
6. Narcotic analgesics to relieve pain (such as Vicodin, Demerol, and Xanax).

Note that these drugs are categorized by the type of symptom that they treat. None of them cure IBS. These drugs change how you experience IBS by forcing changes in the biochemistry of your body. None is capable of curing IBS, because IBS is not caused by a drug deficiency. Treatment with these drugs does not address the cause of your IBS, and once you stop using the drugs the symptoms will return. The use of these drugs often results in serious side effects and/or negative long-term consequences. More information about these medications can be found in the book, The Irritable Bowel Syndrome Solution.

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Patient Finally Finds Relief From Heartburn

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Dr. Stephen Wangen“I wanted to send you an update. I have not once had heartburn or indigestion, both of which I’ve had since high school. I want to thank the whole team at the IBS Treatment Center for all they have done. I continually tell people about my experience with you all and encourage others to make an appointment. You all do such amazing work and I hope that you continue to do so for many year. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for sparing me years of pain, boxes of Prilosec and surgery!! I will never forget the amazing work you do!”

Best,
Mallory Saffold

Patients have come to the IBS Treatment Center from all over. They have visited our clinics in Seattle, WA and Santa Monica, CA from 49 states and from every continent on the planet.

Some of these patients had even spent a considerable amount of time at the Mayo Clinic, the Cleveland Clinic, UCLA, and other major medical centers to no avail. We have treated many doctors, nurses, even faculty from some famous medical schools.

We won’t blame stress, tell you to eat more fiber, or drink more water. We won’t repeat the same tests that you’ve already had and tell you that everything is ok. We’re listening, and we know that you’re not ok. Please let us help you!

The cause of IBS varies from person to person, which is what makes irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and the symptoms of diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating and chronic abdominal pain so difficult for most doctors to treat. However, through proper testing you will be able to identify the exact cause or causes of your symptoms and live a life free of digestive problem

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Patient Finally Finds Relief from Bloating

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(creativecommons)

(creativecommons)

“I began having bloating (severe) in my late teens. For many months I just brushed it aside not really thinking I actually had a medical problem. As time went on, the bloating became more intense and for longer periods of time.

My family practitioner would prescribe me an antibiotic and while on it, and several weeks after, I would have extreme diarrhea. I was diagnosed with IBS. However, I just kept getting worse and worse. I was extremely tired all the time and did not have enough energy to work all day.

Finally after trying to do some research on our own, my parents and I found the IBS Treatment Center. We decided to make an appointment and flight reservations. Within two weeks, we traveled across the country to talk with them. Now, only a few months later, my energy is much, much better and I don’t feel sick all of the time.”

– Jill Ochs from Kansas

Gas and Bloating

One of the by-products of the breaking down of food is gas. Bacteria and digestion create some gas, which collects into bubbles and is expelled as flatulence. This is normal.

However, if you are producing so much gas that it affects your social activity, or if the gas is especially odorous, then your body is not breaking down food properly. Excess gas can also cause bloating and often abdominal pain. The conditions most likely to cause excess gas and bloating are food allergy or an imbalance in the bacteria in your digestive tract.

The IBS Treatment Center offers specialized testing to determine what is causing your excess gas, bloating, and/or abdmonial pain. Our expertise in both testing and treatment enable us to help out patients discover and treat the condition or conditions that are causing their symptoms. The end result is that our patients find a solution.

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Insurance Companies are Vulnerable to Cyber-attack

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Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 5.48.27 PMAnthem Inc., one of the largest health insurance companies in the USA has reported that they have had data stolen by hackers.  Anthem Blue Cross and several other health insurance companies are owned by Anthem Inc.

Data apparently includes names, social security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, and email addresses.  This information is sufficient to assume identity fraudulently in a large number of ways.  Affected persons are now at risk for identity theft, bank account takeover, and a variety of other potential harms.

READ MORE:
http://krebsonsecurity.com

The IBS Treatment Center does not collect social security numbers and strives to keep our systems secure from hacking.  This breach at Anthem Blue Cross shows that large concentrations of identity data continue to be a target for hackers.  The value of data, even information many don’t consider to be valuable, like email address and personal information that may be used as password reset question answers is being accumulated by large groups of criminals who then combine the information and use it to conduct a variety of crimes.

The IBS Treatment Center highly recommends that patients use secure systems other than email, such as File Drop Vault® to send and receive sensitive and personal information.  Email and fax communications are sent over the internet in clear text and are subject to interception without detection.

Little can be done once your data has been compromised.  On should monitor activity in financial accounts/credit scores and reporting problems as soon possible to the proper authorities.  It is important to do this as protection from liability is limited in many cases, by the timeliness of the report of the problem.

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Patient Scours the Globe for IBS Specialist

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(commons.wikipedia)

(commons.wikipedia)

“My husband and I are missionaries and have lived out of the country the last three years.  Since leaving the country I have been sick with stomach issues.  I have had four colonoscopies, seen numerous doctors outside the country and in the US as well, all with no answers. The last thing that I was told was that I had IBS and there was no sense in running any more tests.

I can not say how thankful I am for the staff at the IBS Treatment Center. They are great to work with and are very helpful with anything that I need. I don’t think I will trust anyone else with my healthcare needs.

I really can’t say ‘thank you’ enough to the IBS Treatment Center.”

– Susan from Ecuador

IBS specialists are experts in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A gastroenterologist may diagnose IBS, but that will only tell you what you already know, that your bowel irritates you.

To the IBS specialist the label of IBS only serves as a starting point for further investigation, nothing more. The IBS specialist focuses on assessing and diagnosing the cause of your digestive problems, not on the gross structural integrity of the digestive tract. Rather than focusing on the patients symptoms, or simply treating the symptoms, the IBS specialist is devoted to identifying the condition or conditions in the patient that are causing the symptoms.

What Does an IBS Specialist Do?

There are literally hundreds of different causes of IBS and the digestive problems associated with IBS. An IBS specialist does not have any idea about how they will treat an IBS patient when they first meet that patient. Patients with identical symptoms may have radically different causes for those symptoms. An IBS specialist focuses on the detective work required to develop the proper treatment plan for each unique patient.

This process involves a detailed evaluation of how the body is responding to the foods in the diet (food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities), and a thorough assessment of the profound ecosystem (including probiotics, yeast, bad bacteria, and parasites) that is contained within the digestive tract. It may also involve evaluating enzyme production, acid production, and the overall functioning of the digestive tract.

IBS specialists do not do what gastroenterologist do, and gastroenterologists do not do what IBS specialists do. These are completely different specialties. There is only a very tiny amount of overlap with regard to stool testing. But even this is extremely minor as the IBS specialist utilizes much more advanced stool analyses.

If you have IBS and continue to see gastroenterologists, then you will continue to get the same kind of testing and treatment that you’ve always received, even if you go to the Mayo Clinic, or the Cleveland Clinic, or any other big name medical facility or highly regarded expert – because they have a “standard of care” that recommends limiting testing. If that hasn’t helped, or you’d simply like to begin your journey with a different approach, then you need to see an IBS specialist. Your experience will be very different, which makes it far more likely that the outcome will be very different.

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