Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Whats So Irritating

Medically reviewed by: Gary H. Hoffman, MD

No Cause.  No Cure (Yet).  But Treatable

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, is one of the more frustrating and annoying maladies afflicting humankind.  IBS does not respect any age boundary, affecting people of all ages. IBS affects men and women, although women are more commonly affected.  IBS has been studied intensely and has not yielded up the secret of its cause.  IBS can present in a number of different ways.  And what about a cure?  As of today, IBS has no cure.  But, a proctologist may be able to help.

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Although IBS can present after age 50, many patients report knowing that they have had IBS since childhood.  Patients report that signs and symptoms of the disease began after some type of early childhood gastrointestinal infection.  Many men have reported that they developed the disease after having spent time as prisoners during World War II in the South Pacific.  The disease became manifest shortly after a gastrointestinal illness.  It seems to afflict people living in metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles or Beverly Hills.  The disease is less common in rural areas.  A proctologist, also known as a colon and rectal surgeon or coloproctologist,  can give you more information about IBS.

How Many Plagues?

The symptoms are irritating as well.  Not bad enough to be life threatening, and yet severe enough to interfere with the activities of daily life.  The list of symptoms reads like a textbook of gastrointestinal symptoms, or like the ten plagues.

  • Abdominal pain.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Constipation.
  • Gastrointestinal reflux.
  • Fatigue.
  • Headache.
  • Backache.
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Fibromyalgia.

Yes, the ten plagues of IBS.

The Cause?

As there is as of yet, no cure, the causes are only guesses at best.  Disruption of the brain-gut axis, or, the relationship between our central nervous system and our gastrointestinal tract is thought to play a role in the development of IBS.  Or, perhaps an infection of some type, even an unnoticed infection, may have been the trigger for IBS.  There is some evidence that a remote or even an active protozoa infection may be at the heart of the problem.  Environmental, genetic or psychological factors have all been raised as possible etiologies of the disease.

Diagnose It And Then Control It.

Perhaps the most important aspect of IBS is obtaining an accurate diagnosis which rules out other, immediately life threatening conditions.  Other diagnoses include colon cancer, colitis (such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, microscopic colitis, or eosinophilic colitis), celiac disease, lactose intolerance, carcinoid syndrome or various endocrine disorders such as thyroid disease may be to blame.  These entities must be excluded prior to labeling someone as having IBS.  This need for an accurate diagnosis is where patients can use the help of a proctologist.  Colon and rectal physicians are specifically trained to evaluate their patients for a wide variety of illness that can affect the GI tract.  And diagnosis is the first step down the path to symptomatic control.  There is not a cure for IBS yet.  However, symptoms can be controlled.

Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates

A phone call to the doctors at Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates is that first step toward treatment.  With offices in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, your diagnostic plan can be developed in a quiet and confidential setting with the help of a skilled team of physicians.   Call (310)273-2310 to schedule an appointment.

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