The biggest misconception is that IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) defines a specific medical condition. IBS is, by definition, just a group of symptoms affecting the digestive tract that haven’t been explained. Unlike cancer, a stroke, or the flu, IBS is more of a starting point than a diagnosis, because it doesn’t provide any new information.
Once a person has the symptoms it is necessary to do additional testing to identify the cause of those symptoms – what you might call an actual diagnosis. Once you have an actual diagnosis, then you can treat whatever it is that causes the symptoms and usually stop them.
CAUSES OF IBS
A second common misconception is that IBS is only caused by one thing. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The digestive tract is very complicated, but can only display a limited range of symptoms. There are many things that can cause constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, gas, bloating, etc. Any individual might have one or more of the causes at any one time.
There is a wide range of causes of IBS and many patients have more than one cause, sometimes several causes, at the same time. For example, many patients have an allergy to a food, which causes them to have IBS symptoms. But not all IBS patients have food allergies. Many patients have bacterial or microbial issues, for example, not enough of the needed digestive bacteria are living in their digestive tract. But not all IBS patients have bacterial issues either.
Some patients have food allergies, bacterial/microbial issues, and other factors. To correctly diagnose the cause of IBS symptoms it is necessary to test for a range of potential causes. If you don’t treat all of the conditions you have, your IBS probably won’t be resolved.
The IBS specialists at our clinic will determine the cause of your IBS and focus treatment on the underlying issue so you can be IBS-free for life. Contact the IBS Treatment Center in Seattle or Santa Monica today – we’ll help you take back control of your life.
Dr. Wangen is the founder and medical director of the IBS Treatment Center, the award winning author of two books, and a nationally recognized speaker on digestive disorders. He has been on ABC, NBC, and Fox as well as public radio, and was named one of Seattle’s Top Doctors by Seattle Magazine.