IBS Awareness

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Monina Pascua, MD, PharmD, MSCE

IBS is extremely common. Many studies indicate that up to 20% of American adult individuals may suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Although this condition does not discriminate against age or race, it does tend to be more common in women than in men. Read on to learn about the causes and treatments of IBS, and to take a short survey to find out if you have any symptoms of IBS.

What causes IBS? Can I lower my risk for contracting this condition?

Unfortunately, the causes of IBS are not yet well understood. Currently, much research is ongoing with regards to this disease. Several theories exist based on research and understanding of the gastrointestinal tract:

  • One theory relates to food sensitivity (not to be confused with food allergies). Some diets to counteract IBS have been successful, most notably the low “FODMAPS” diet. It is theorized that IBS may be related to poor digestion or absorption of some carbohydrates (sugars) in affected individuals.
  • Another theory suggests that individuals suffering with IBS may have a disruption in the nervous signals between the brain and GI tract or intestinal nerves.
  • IBS is often found in association with mental health disorders, such as anxiety, depression, or stress. These disorders heighten the neurochemicals in the body that increase IBS symptoms.
  • Lastly, researchers have shown that IBS may be linked to bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine or disruption in the normal bacterial flora of the GI tract which may occur after a gastrointestinal infection (such as bacterial gastroenteritis, food poisoning, infectious colitis,  etc).

How is IBS diagnosed & treated at The Oregon Clinic?

All 49 providers at The Oregon Clinic Gastroenterology are experienced in evaluating and treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome; however, IBS is often a diagnosis of exclusion.   This means that other important conditions and diseases that may be contributing to IBS-like symptoms must be ruled out to ensure that a correct and accurate diagnosis is given. Once a diagnosis is established, our providers explain the types of therapies and treatments available, and with the patient, they jointly decide what route of treatment will work best for the patient’s comfort level and lifestyle. Following up with patient symptoms is an important part of our practice. Every effort is made to ensure that each patient is well-treated and followed up with regularly.

How do I know if I need to see a Gastroenterologist?

“If there is any concern at all about your gastroenterological symptoms, don’t hesitate to see us,” says Dr. Pascua. “Symptoms of special concern and alarm include unexpected weight loss, vomiting, severe abdominal pain, dramatic change in bowel habits, and bleeding.  Also, if your gastroenterology problems are unmanageable or you cannot function with your symptoms, it is recommended to make an appointment.   Additionally, it is especially important to see a specialist if you are over the age of 50 and have not yet been screened for colon cancer.”

Why choose The Oregon Clinic?

If you choose to see a gastroenterology specialist at The Oregon Clinic, you can be sure that you will receive a very thorough and comprehensive examination and treatment plan no matter who you see. Not only do our providers try to provide diagnoses, but they also provide a special level of care and compassion in helping their patients manage their disease through treatment plans that fit in with their special needs and lifestyles. “The Oregon Clinic focuses on general wellness,” says Dr. Pascua, “we care about our patients beyond the diseases and conditions they struggle with; we approach our care with consideration to all aspects of the patient’s well-being.”

If you are concerned about your symptoms and believe you may be suffering with IBS, don’t hesitate to contact one of our 60+ gastroenterology specialists, practicing at eight different locations throughout the Portland metro area.

Learn more about our team of experts, our locations, and the conditions we treat at www.oregonclinic.com/gastroenterology