- Women’s Health
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- Nurse Barb
This is a sponsored post. Salix Pharmaceuticals compensated me for this post. 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 being diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D).
Alana was working on completing her teacher’s 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:
A Closer Look at IBS-D
Earlier this year, I attended a talk by leading gastroenterologist, Dr. Mark Pimentel and learned about the complexities of our GI system’s microbiota. It was not only fascinating, but it’s also helped me understand how disruptions in the healthy bacteria in our intestines can contribute to IBS symptoms.
IBS-D Up Close
I also found a new website, IBSDUpClose.com that was launched to provide information for patients and for health care providers about IBS-D.
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:
There is no cure for IBS, but there are treatments that address the symptoms
A Closer Look at the Possible Causes of IBS-D:
I also liked that the IBS-D Up Close site has links to 2 different on-line 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.
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.