Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Diagnose & Treat

Medically reviewed by: Gary H. Hoffman, MD

IBS.  Many Faces.  The Great Masquerader.

By now, most people are aware of IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome.  IBS is a vexing problem with symptoms ranging from diarrhea to constipation.  And then, there is everything in between, including, fever, headache, backache, body pains, abdominal pain, depression and anxiety.

The syndrome is common in large cities such as Beverly  Hills and Los Angeles.  Many people suffer silently from the symptoms of IBS.  Doctors and patients alike have searched for a cause.  To date, no cause has been found.

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What Else Could It Be?

Once it is determined that the root of the symptoms is IBS, treatment is begun.  Before the treatment commences, other diseases must be ruled out.  Obvious and dangerous diagnoses such as colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, microscopic colitis and bacterial overgrowth are all important diseases that must be ruled out prior to symptomatic treatment.  How is a diagnosis obtained?

It is important that your evaluation begin with a visit to a colorectal surgeon, also known as a proctologist.  Proctologists are specially trained in the diagnosis of IBS.  The evaluation should not be painful or frightening.  It begins with a thorough history, looking for other diseases which might masquerade as IBS.  Blood tests can be used to check for liver disease, anemia, inflammation and celiac disease.

Let The Testing Begin.

An abdominal ultrasound will often be utilized to evaluate your liver and gall bladder, as gall stones may be causing acute or chronic cholecystitis (an inflammation of the gall bladder), which may mimic the symptoms of IBS.

A quick look into your stomach can be performed with esophagogastroduodenoscopy (an EGD or endoscopy).  This may uncover an infection with helicobacter pylorii (H.P.) or an ulcer.  And a look into your colon via a colonoscopy may be performed to rule out inflammatory bowel disease, cancer or infections.

You may be asked to submit a sample of stool for stool cultures, looking for an active or remote infection by bacteria or protozoa.  These can be easily treated and may yield a striking resolution of symptoms if an infection is found.

Hydrogen breath testing may be used to rule out lactose intolerance or fructose intolerance.

Not uncommonly, a misdiagnosis is made because IBS may mimic other conditions.  It is important that your visit to a colon and rectal surgeon be thorough and comprehensive.  Treating the wrong disorder may only prolong the symptoms as the underlying condition of IBS remains untreated.

Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates.

Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates physicians are all board certified and have many years of experience diagnosing and treating all of the various maladies affecting the GI tract.  With offices in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, the physicians are nearby and will help you in a skillful and competent manner.  Although a cure is not yet available, symptomatic treatment can be very effective and there is no reason to suffer alone or quietly.  The surgeons at Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates are available to answer any of your questions. (310)273-2310.

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