People often think that IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) has to involve diarrhea or constipation, but often it does not.
For many people the only obvious symptom is abdominal pain. And the pain can vary from a mild discomfort to incredibly debilitating.
Chronic abdominal pain is one of the top 5 reasons that people to go to the doctor.
Unfortunately, for many it is also very poorly treated. The typical approach is to rule out ulcers, appendicitis, gallstones, uterine problems, or cancers. This may be done with blood work, scopes, scans, ultrasound or other imaging, depending on the problem.
If you have one of the aforementioned problems and it’s found, then your problem should be solved. But many people with abdominal pain do not have an ulceration, appendicitis, gallstones, uterine problems or cancer.
For them, all of the tests come back negative. They are told that nothing is wrong and left with the impression that it’s all in their head.
Of course, something is very wrong. There is always a logical reason for a problem such as abdominal pain, and it’s rarely just a mental or stress issue. But it’s not something that is structural or that you can see with the kinds of tests mentioned above. Unfortunately, those are the only tests most doctors have to offer.
The good news is that there are other tests that can help you to figure out why you have abdominal pain.
There is absolutely no doubt that food allergies and intolerances can cause abdominal pain, even extremely debilitating pain that causes you to go to the hospital or to take powerful pain medications. And food allergy testing is not all created equal. Food allergy testing is a very complex area, and many food allergy tests are poorly done or improperly interpreted.
People often wonder how a food that they’ve eaten all their life could now be an allergen or could be causing abdominal pain. But for many people this is exactly what happens. They go along with relatively few or no problems at all until one day the symptoms start to manifest themselves, seemingly coming out of nowhere. After that they never seem to be the same again.
There are many theories for why this happens, but our focus is on resolving the abdominal pain, which is a very realistic goal for most patients. Although food allergies and intolerances are a common cause of abdominal pain, other causes must also be sorted out. Frequently there are bacterial problems, yeast (Candida), or even parasites, all of which can also cause abdominal pain.
Most conventional stool tests are not capable of finding all of these problems, which is why we only use state-of-the-art DNA stool testing at the IBS Treatment Center. This can be an important test to run even if you’ve previously had stool tests that were negative.
If you or someone you know has abdominal pain and has been offered little more than pain medication to help treat the problem, then please schedule an appointment with us so that we can help you. We listen, and we help people solve abdominal pain and get their lives back.
Image thanks to juniperblue.com
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.