What are some things people don’t realize about IBS?

GI disorders such as IBS are becoming increasingly prevalent and there can be a number of things people don’t realize about IBS.

If you are considering medical treatment, expect lots of tests. IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion, which means that other diseases and infections must be ruled out before it can be diagnosed. Physicians often run several tests to ensure that there is no inflammation, infection, or other disease causing the symptoms. Diagnosing IBS typically involves a physical exam and medical history. Since it is important to exclude other GI conditions, doctors don’t use tests alone to diagnose IBS. The evaluation may include blood tests, stool samples, endoscopic procedures (such as sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy), or imaging procedures (like a CT scan or MRI).

Unfortunately, all these tests are not free, and can be quite expensive for someone with sub-par insurance coverage.

Don’t believe the miracle diets and shaman cures out there. Low FODMAP, gluten free, probiotics and a myriad other treatments, supplements and diets been touted to be the panacea for IBS and related GI disorders to varying degrees. There is no one solution unfortunately. IBS is individual specific and what works for one exacerbate symptoms in another.

IBS does not go away. But it can be managed. Keeping a log of one’s symptoms and foods that aggravate them has been a popular tactic amongst many people suffering from IBS. It requires patience, will power and diligence. But the long-term rewards may be well worth it. One approach is to keep track of food intake and any associated symptoms or flareups for a timeframe (4-6 weeks). At the start, it may make the most sense to start with a limited set of food items and slowly expand the list as time goes on. For example, steamed vegetables, rice and a fruit in week 1.

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