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By Nurse Barb Dehn
Disclosure: I was invited to attend an event about IBS-D by Salix Pharmaceuticals and am working with them to help get information out about how to talk about IBS-D symptoms and treatment options. Salix provided me with a stipend and paid for my travel and accommodations related to the event; however, all opinions are my own.
I really like this photo of models who’ve had their tummies painted to represent what it’s like to have Irritable Bowel Syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D). Between the cramping, bloating, pain and let’s face it, the frequent and unpredictable trips to the bathroom, if you have IBS-D, this might be exactly how you feel.
Could you have IBS-D? Take Nurse Barb’s Quiz
If you answered yes to these questions, then you should talk to your healthcare provider and ask if you could be like the up to 16 million Americans with IBS-D. Your HCP should evaluate your clinical history, perform a physical examination, ensure diagnostic criteria for IBS-D are met and that alarm features are absent before making a diagnosis.
Experts weigh in on IBS-D – It’s unpredictable
Recently I attended an informational event with Dr. Mark Pimentel, Executive Director of the Medically Associated Science and Technology (MAST) program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California.
Dr. Pimentel explained that living with IBS can be enormously frustrating and that people with IBS-D don’t often know when they’re going to need to visit the bathroom, which can cause people to limit their lives for fear of not being able to find a restroom.
Imagine getting up and not knowing if you’ll visit the bathroom once or let’s say 12 times that day and not knowing when the urgent need to use the restroom will come up.
If you have IBS-D, then you don’t have to imagine this, you may know what it’s like to not know when you have stop what you’re doing and find a bathroom––Quickly. No wonder people start to stay home and skip doing the things they love.
And, despite a lot of well-meaning advice about what foods to eat and which ones to avoid, people with IBS-D may find that they are unable to predict if they will experience symptoms on any given day. It can be frustrating and depressing.
Quick Facts on IBS
• Some people with IBS experience constipation in more than 25% of bowel movements and diarrhea in more than 25% of bowel movements, this is known as mixed IBS.
What Causes IBS-D
– Aha! Could this information help us find effective treatments?
– Stay tuned.
Find a Gastrointestinal specialist
If you think that you might have IBS-D, then DO find a gastrointestinal specialist, known as a GI specialist, who has experience with IBS-D. Your primary care provider may not be as familiar with the latest research and treatments.
I know that this may be embarrassing to talk about, but the talk doesn’t have to be as uncomfortable as the symptoms. I really like this website: LetsTalk-2 that has resources and a list of questions for you to talk to your health care provider about.
My tips for preparing to talk to your health care provider about your symptoms
Questions about IBS-D for your health care provider
Treatment options for IBS-D
Dr. Pimentel presented data about a treatment option for IBS-D that has helped provide significant relief of both abdominal pain and diarrhea. Click here to learn more about an IBS-D treatment option.
A friend called me for advice about her daughter’s, Kim’s allergies. With spring soccer in full swing and pollen counts soaring, games and practice sessions on fields of freshly cut grass, in parks surrounded by flowering plants and trees meant sneezing, watery, itching eyes and often triggered Kim’s underlying asthma.
Even people who don’t have asthma can find this time of year challenging. They many start to sneeze suddenly, have a runny nose, a scratchy feeling in the back of their throat, or feel that there’s something irritating in their eyes.
What you can do
Whether you’re reaching for the tissue box or scanning the pharmacy for a good over the counter medication, I have some tips for recognizing the signs of seasonal allergies and strategies for keeping your allergy symptoms at bay.
Why allergies cause symptoms
Pollen, mold, dust, dander from a dog or cat, bee stings and some foods contain small particles, known as allergens, that bother some people and not others. In the case of allergies, the body’s immune system perceives the allergens as foreign objects and tries to protect itself by releasing histamine and other inflammatory substances. The histamine causes swelling in the nasal passages, throat and airway, leading to many of the symptoms. (more…)
Maybe you watched some of the recent incredible news story about how cancers are being cured by modified viruses, including HIV, or maybe you’ve heard about a life-saving new drug in the media and wondered about how modern medicine uses clinical trials to bring new options to people. Here are the top 5 questions I get asked all the time about clinical trials.
Whatever your level of curiosity, here are some answers from clinicaltrials.gov to help clarify a few things.
1. What is a clinical trial?
In a nutshell, clinical trials are ways that we answer health questions. The following are simplified, but you get the idea.
• Does this new medication work the way we hope it would when it was developed?
• What’s the right dose?
• What are the common side effects?
• Will eating more or less of a certain food help with diabetes, heart disease or any number of conditions?
• What happens when we add 2 or more medications together?
2. What are the types of clinical studies?
There are two types of clinical studies: Clinical trials and Observational studies
• In a clinical trial, people who qualify by meeting certain inclusion criteria are placed into different groups by an investigator. One group will receive the “intervention” that is being studied. This might come in the form of a medication, new treatment, or a change in behavior (like a change in diet). Since investigators are trying to figure out if the new treatment works, they must compare it to either an existing treatment, no treatment, or a placebo*. (more…)
Can you believe we’re still talking about the flu this year? Like the persistent winter storms that have blanketed much of the country week after week, this flu started early and it’s still widespread in many parts of the country. There were several different strains of the flu circulating, which meant that some people came down with the flu twice!
5 Flu Tips for Spring
1. Wipe it down and wash your hands
The winter storms may have left you drained from endless laundry, however, good old-fashioned hand washing and wiping down surfaces is more important now than ever. Keep hand sanitizer in your backpack or purse, wash your hands and wipe down surfaces especially when anyone in the house has a runny nose or cough.
2. Get your Zzz’s
There’s abundant research that shows adults do best with seven to eight hours of restful sleep each night. Sleep is essential for a healthy immune system to restore and refresh itself. Not only does plenty of restful sleep help keep you healthy, it also helps you recover if you are dealing with a cold or flu.
3. Let the sunshine in
A key nutrient for a healthy immune system is vitamin D, which is known as the sunshine vitamin because your skin uses sun exposure to make it. Vitamin D is also found in fortified milk. Vitamin D helps bolster your immune systems and helps prevent some infections and some types of cancer. (more…)
When pain persists after shingles it can be a painful and difficult experience. After a person has shingles they may develop postherpetic neuralgia, which is also known as PHN. When a person has Shingles, they develop a painful, itching and burning rash. The skin usually appears red, with blisters and small bumps. Their skin can become tender to even the slightest touch from nerve damage done by the virus that causes shingles, which happens to be the same herpes virus that causes Chickenpox.
Shingles and Pain
After the Shingles rash heals, some people continue to have excruciating pain in the area where the rash was. This pain may continue for weeks or months. The pain can be so intense that wearing clothes or even a gentle breeze on the skin causes pain. People often feel as if their skin is on fire and describe the pain as a burning or searing. Others say it feels as if their nerves are raw and always irritated. This after shingles pain is known as PostHerpetic Neuralgia or PHN, because the herpes virus damages the nerves. (more…)
Whether you are heading to the doctor for a routine physical or you need a root canal from your dentist, it can be hard to loose your sense of apprehension and anxiety. Many people have a bit of a medical phobia, and though you are likely not going to run screaming into the streets, you probably could stand to be calmer. Consider these six ways to keep your fear of the medical profession check and to learn to relax
Many frightening things are a lot less fearful if you can bring along someone who is in your corner. Ask a friend to come with (more…)
With summer grilling season in full swing, more of my patients are coming in to talk about frequent heartburn. Frequent heartburn suffers can experience heartburn as often as two times per week which keeps them from enjoying the foods that they love at BBQ gatherings.
So, for those of you who are enjoying the summer celebrations but not-so-much the consequent heartburn, it’s important to pay attention to how frequent your heartburn occurs. While a simple antacid can do the trick for occasional heartburn, those who are suffer from heartburn two or more times a week may need some extra help.
What can you do?
Frequent heartburn can be very frustrating and uncomfortable. But fear not, there are medications that can help alleviate the pain. For frequent heartburn sufferers, a class of heartburn drugs called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) work best. PPIs are taken in the morning, before your first meal, and can come in the form of prescription or over-the-counter medicines. (more…)
I prescribe a lot of birth control. A LOT. Not surprising – over 60% of college students use The Pill as a form a birth control, and they have to get it from somewhere, right?
There are some things I have to ask about when you come to me for a pill prescription. Medical history, smoking history, menstrual history, sexual history. And I’ll ask you whether you have a history of migraines.
Common response: “Not too often” – said chirpily, almost dismissively. So…that’s a yes, then?
As you may or may not have heard, “migraine” is not synonymous with “really bad headache”. (more…)
Do you know what Antibiotic Resistance is? And why you should care about it?
Since the 1940’s when antibiotics were first used during WW 2, their use has become ubiquitous.
Prior to that infections caused by bacteria could be fatal. Many people died because of bacterial infections that their own bodies couldn’t fight off. Strept throat, bladder infections, bronchitis, ear infections, STDs, you name it, have all been treated with antibiotics for decades.
What do you think would be better to prevent heart attacks, for people to try to remember to take 4 separate pills that they had to pay for or ask them to remember to take 1 pill that’s free? If you guessed the 1 free pill, you’re the winner and so were the people who were studied. (more…)