Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome, also known also as IBS, is the most common gastrointestinal (GI) disorder that doctors see. IBS accounts for 30% to 50% of all referrals to gastroenterologists. While research indicates that almost 20% of the American population suffer from significant IBS symptoms, women seem to suffer from IBS at double the rate of men. Perhaps, men don’t report symptoms, or visit doctors as often as women do?
Symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
The symptoms of IBS usually remain below the waist. However, this condition may also cause difficulty swallowing, a sensation of a lump in the throat, acid indigestion, nausea, and chest pain. There is also the gut brain connection to consider, in which some patients may experience bouts of anxiety and depression. These functional GI disturbances are typically characterized by some combination of:
- abdominal pain
- altered bowel function, including constipation and/or diarrhea
- excess mucous secretion in the colon
- varying degrees of anxiety and depression
- loss of appetite
- inflammation of the intestines
- inability to digest food especially certain sweeteners
Other Illnesses related to Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
People who have IBS also tend to have other chronic illnesses including:
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- migraine syndrome
- food intolerances
- restless leg syndrome
- TMJ problems
- multiple chemical sensitivities
Other Conditions Mimic Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
There are many common medical conditions that can mimic IBS that must be ruled out such as biliary tract disease, pancreatic insufficiency, celiac disease, diverticular disease, duodenal ulcer and colon cancer. Once ruled out, it can be said that Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome is a multifunctional disorder requiring consideration and the integration of many factors such as:
- dietary fiber intake
- food allergies and sensitivities
- leaky gut
- chronic psychological/emotional stress
- bacterial/parasitic infections
- low serotonin levels in the intestinal tract (90% of the serotonin levels are in the intestinal lining and play a major role in bowel transit time).
Artificial Sweetener Link to Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome?
It is important to note that a percentage of patients diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome, have an inability to digest fructose, lactose and/or sorbitol and in some cases other food groups may be playing a role. So, it is vital, before beginning any program of treatment for IBS, to verify that the problem is not due to failure to digest these pervasive sweetening agents! First, try excluding them for one to two weeks to find out if you are suffering from an allergy/sensitivity to any of these sweeteners. Highly allergic patients should be thoroughly tested for food allergic reactions that may be contributing or causing IBS symptoms.
Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome is a symptom
In summary, IBS is a symptom of a compromised gastrointestinal system. The use of potentially dangerous drugs, which further compromise the intestinal tract to reduce or alter symptoms, might mask the symptom picture for a while, but over time, will further compromise and cause more complications for the IBS patient. I advise patients take a serious look at holistic/natural medicine that will focus on correcting the biochemical, neurological, and/or pathogenic aspects of this disorder. This is the most likely approach to arriving at a long term solution to this troubling malady. The medical drug based approach to IBS often does not consider the long term effect of toxic drug based therapy on the GI tract and the patient’s overall health. The disregard of a more holistic functional approach is typical of what is wrong with symptom-focused pharmaceutical medicine today.
Read Dr. Cushing’s biography