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IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

FODMAPS and Medication Side-Effects

IBS is a chronic (long-term) condition that is common. It affects approximately 1 in 5 Americans at some point. It causes a variety of real symptoms – for example – bloating, cramping pains, flatulence and changes in bowel habit – the frequency of passing stool – or its consistency. It may include the passage of mucus in the stool. In some people, diarrhea is the dominant problems; in others constipation. And others still, have a bowel habit that alternates between the two and is rarely “normal”.

Although we don’t like to think, in theory, of IBS as being a diagnosis of exclusion – that is by making sure nothing serious is going on – that is often the tactic that is necessary to provide reassurance. With currently available techniques this likely involves blood tests to ensure nutrients are being absorbed, to exclude other diseases with GI manifestations and may involve endoscopy and biopsies.

IBS is NOT an inflammatory condition – these fall under the general title of IBD (which despite the similarity in initials of the acronym, stands for Inflammatory Bowel Disease).

In fact, long-term follow-up of patients diagnosed with IBS by a specialist, show that less than 1% are found to have another condition. Thus, for the vast majority, IBS can be diagnosed pro-actively and treatment can focus on symptom management.

Symptoms that are NOT those of IBS and do warrant formal investigation include a sudden change in bowel habit, the passage of blood, an increase in frequency or severity of abdominal pain, including if it wakens one from sleep and the unexplained loss of appetites or weight.

Factors that can aggravate IBS do include diet, stress, normal hormonal cycles, and other illnesses.

One of the more intriguing observations has been the role of FODMAPS in the diet. Fermentable, oligo-, di- and monosaccharides and polyols (called FODMAPS for short) are found in certain grains, fruits and dairy products. And can lead to GI symptoms. Eliminating high-gas foods, gluten and foods with high-FODMAPS may prove beneficial. The role of gluten and celiac disease are discussed elsewhere this site.

The use of fiber supplements, antidiarrheals, antispasmodics or antibiotics can improve or exacerbate symptoms. Often I find a review of medications and the treatment of other non-GI medical conditions leads to significant insight into the causes of GI symptoms – medication side-effects ARE common and sadly under-recognized by non-GI physicians.

Based in the heart of uptown and the Garden District of New Orleans, Dr. Huilgol (”Dr. Viv”) and the team at NOLA Gastro is committed to working with you to investigate what is going on, so you can make the correct choices for you.

GI health matters. Let’s work it out together.

Call 504-249-5901 and make an appointment…

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