symptoms of ibs

staff2From 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 years.

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!

Mallory Saffold

Heartburn or acid reflux or GERD — 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.

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.

If you experience heartburn, it’s important to get the proper testing so that we can sort through the possible causes and provide you with permanent relief. Even heartburn caused by necessary drugs can be treated in a way that is much healthier and more effective than acid blockers.

QUESTIONS? Contact our office at or 1.888.546.6283.


drwangenI rather like this study because it ties together two seemingly unrelated issues, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and erectile dysfunction (ED).

Although I’m a specialist in digestive problems, I frequently have patients who also have other problems. These range from headaches and sinusitis to eczema and joint pain, and everything in between. The common thread in all of these conditions is inflammation. And guess what?  The same things that trigger inflammation in the digestive tract also have the potential to trigger inflammation other parts of the body. Thus, one of the beautiful things about my job is that my patients frequently report improvement in non-digestive problems such as the ones mentioned. 

From Renal and Urology News:

In adjusted analyses, men with IBS had a nearly 2.6 times increased risk of ED compared with controls, researchers reported in Andrology (2013;1:793-798). The risk increased with increasing age and number of comorbidities.

Erectile dysfunction is also about inflammation. So it shouldn’t be too surprising to see that an association has been found between IBS and ED.

It’s not that one is causing the other, it’s that people who have one are more likely to have both. It also raises the question, if we can cure IBS, then can we cure ED?  I think it’s possible if, like with IBS, we focus on finding the cause of the inflammation.

Questions about IBS? Contact my office directly at or call us toll-free at 1.888.546.6283.


Many of our patients who have digestive problems are also anemic due to low iron or low vitamin B12 levels.  And anemia causes fatigue, so keep that in mind.

Being anemic and having Irritable Bowel Syndrom (IBS) is not unusual and there is a logical reason for it.

First we’ll discuss anemia and then how it relates to IBS and digestive problems.

What is Anemia?

Anemia is a common blood disorder that is a decrease in the number of red blood cells (RBCs) and/or poorly formed red blood cells. These are the cells in your blood that carry oxygen. If you are anemic, then you will be tired because you are not delivering as much oxygen to your body as someone who is not anemic.

There are many different types of anemia, but the most common are due to iron deficiency or vitamin B12 deficiency. Iron deficiency anemia will show up on your complete blood count (CBC) as a low RBC count, low
hematocrit (Htc), and/or low hemoglobin (Hgb). Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia typically shows up as an increase in the size of the red blood cells. On your CBC it is noted as the MCV.

Catch Low Iron Levels Before You Become Anemic

Iron is stored in the body in a protein form called ferritin. Ferritin levels can be measured with a simple blood test.

Ferritin decreases long before iron efficiency anemia is apparent on a complete blood count. Therefore you can often prevent iron deficiency anemia by monitoring your ferritin level. It can take several months of iron supplementation to rebuild iron stores. If you are anemic and you take iron only long enough to correct the anemia, you likely have not built up your iron stores enough to last for very long. Then you are much more likely to become anemic again in the near future, which of course will cause you to be tired. This is another good reason to check your ferritin level.


(image thanks to

Most people with IBS are suffering at least in part because of an allergic reaction to one or more foods. This often surprises people, who don’t believe that they have allergies. This is because they have friends whose allergy symptoms are different, or they think that food allergies result in hives, a rash, or some kind of medical emergency.

But even for those who have already had food allergy testing, chances are it wasn’t very helpful. This is because the majority of food allergy testing is only designed to measure allergies that produce skin rashes. The skin prick testing that is standard practice does demonstrate whether or not the patient will have a rash in reaction to exposure to the allergens used. However it doesn’t and can’t measure other types of immune system responses or immune system activities that involve certain types of antibodies.

People often have a tough time believing that they may have a food allergy because they’ve eaten the “offending” foods before, some every day, and have not suffered from consistently severe symptoms. Maybe they’ve had just a little diarrhea or constipation once in a while, until suddenly it gets worse or new symptoms develop. Symptoms of food allergies, including IBS symptoms, can show up at any age, from birth to old age. The challenge in discovering the food allergy is in getting the proper testing done and in getting the proper education about where the offending foods are hidden in your diet. Most clinics offer neither, even those that supposedly focus on allergies.

The immune system functions like a sentinel standing guard against foreign invaders. In the case of an allergy, the invaders are called allergens. The primary weapon that it uses against invaders is the production of antibodies. The antibodies cause reactions that result in the offending allergens being removed from the body. In many people, foods act as allergens rather than nutrition. This can result in the symptoms of IBS.


If you have never heard of Encopresis then consider yourself fortunate. Those who are familiar with it wish they had never heard of it. It is a big fancy word used to define the symptoms of constipation followed by urgent and unpredictable bowel movements or explosive diarrhea.

Needless to say, it is a very disruptive and embarrassing problem. However, if you have this problem then what you do not know is that it is almost always solvable. Encopresis is another way of saying that your bowels irritate you, so it essentially a more specific type of IBS. Like IBS, it is basically a meaningless diagnosis, it does not give you any more information about your problem then you already know.

However, there is good news, we have seen many patients who have been diagnosed with Encopresis and have found that it is usually preventable. It is caused by the same types of triggers, food allergies and bacterial imbalances, that cause most digestive problems.

In the case of Encopresis, however, there is usually more than one trigger. Therefore you end up with a combination of problems, such as both constipation and diarrhea. Of course these symptoms end up being very unpredictable.

Treating Encopresis is not magic, it is simple common sense, looking for the cause of the problem, and testing for triggers that most doctors do not consider.