Salix Pharmaceuticals has compensated me for this post. However, all opinions are my own.
A few months ago Alana* came to see me for an annual physical. As we reviewed her health history over the last year, she shook her head in frustration as she recounted her recurrent and unpredictable diarrhea, bloating and gas. She underwent a multitude of tests and diet changes that ultimately led to her diagnosis is Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Diarrhea, IBS-D
Alana was working on completing her teachers’ credential, which meant commuting to her own classes and to the schools where she was gaining experience. Though there were always bathrooms nearby, she couldn’t predict when her symptoms would hit and she would need to find a bathroom immediately. She was worried about what her mentor teachers would say about her time spent away from teaching. She felt very alone and overwhelmed by her symptoms.
Like Alana, many people with IBS-D may:
- Limit or cancel social engagements
- Stay home from work or school
- Avoid long car rides, plane rides or going on vacation
- Avoid favorite foods or have limited options in restaurants
- Constantly worry about access to a bathroom
A closer look at IBSD
Earlier this year, I attended a talk by noted Gastroenterologist, Dr. Mark Pimentel and learned about the complexities of our GI systems’ microbiota. It was not only fascinating, but it’s also helped me understand how disruptions in the delicate balance of healthy bacteria in our intestines can contribute to IBS symptoms of diarrhea, gas, bloating and constipation. As I learned more about the Gut-Brain Axis, the complex interconnections between the GI system, our moods and our immune system also became a little clearer.
IBSD Up Close
I also found a new website, IBSDUpClose.com (www.IBSDUPClose.com) that was launched to provide information for patients and for health care providers.
As I took a closer look at what IBS-D is, I found that Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common intestinal disease associated with unpredictable bowel movements. People with IBS usually have stomach (abdominal) pain at least 1 day a week, for at least 3 months. If more than 25% of their bowel movements are loose or watery and less than 25% are hard or lumpy, they could have IBS-D.
A Closer Look at IBS Stats:
- About 1 in every 10 Americans has IBS
- Approximately 40% of people with IBS have IBS-D
- IBS-D affects both men and women almost equally
- People with family members who have IBS are more than twice as likely to develop IBS themselves
- There is no cure for IBS, but there are treatments that address the symptoms or target the potential underlying cause
A Closer Look at the Possible Causes of IBS-D:
- Imbalances in the gut microbiota
- Communication problems between the brain and the digestive system
- Problems in the immune system
- Family history
- Anxiety and/or depression
I also liked that the IBSDUpClose site has links to 2 different online patient support groups: Patients Like Me and Irritable Bowel Syndrome Self Help and Support Group
I found the site very helpful. I did refer Alana to a GI specialist who is treating her and seeing her for regular follow-ups. As a health care provider focused in women’s health, I know that I am not an expert in other areas such as gastrointestinal issues, however, I do try to point my patients in the right direction for further evaluation and care. I think IBSDUpClose.com is a good resource for both patients and providers. I hope you also find it helpful.