UN­HAPPY GUT? SOME PEO­PLE SUF­FER FOR YEARS BE­FORE SEE­ING A DOC­TOR

Times of Oman - - LIFESTYLE -

Ab­dom­i­nal pain? Diar­rhoea? An es­ti­mated 16 mil­lion Amer­i­cans live with a type of ir­ri­ta­ble bowel syn­drome called IBS-D (the D stands for diar­rhoea), and it af­fects both men and women al­most equally. How­ever, only 30 per cent of in­di­vid­u­als con­sult a physi­cian about their symp­toms.

Why is that?

“Peo­ple who ex­pe­ri­ence symp­toms of IBS-D can feel like their symp­toms are not se­vere enough to seek med­i­cal at­ten­tion or that there isn’t any­thing doc­tors can do to help,” says Dr Howard Franklin, vice pres­i­dent of med­i­cal af­fairs and strat­egy at Salix Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. “But doc­tors want to hear about ev­ery­thing you are feel­ing so they can de­ter­mine the un­der­ly­ing cause of your dis­com­fort and help you find a treat­ment plan that is right for you.”

A closer look at IBS-D

Symp­toms of IBS-D, which are dif­fer­ent in every­one, in­clude stom­ach pain and cramp­ing, fre­quent diar­rhoea, gas, bloat­ing and an ur­gency to use the bath­room. Many peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence feel­ing frus­trated, miss­ing out on ac­tiv­i­ties be­cause of symp­toms and avoid­ing sit­u­a­tions where there is no bath­room nearby.

IBS-D can be di­ag­nosed based on symp­tom his­tory, in­clud­ing: day a week dur­ing the last three months.

bowel move­ments are loose or wa­tery (diar­rhoea), and less than

(con­sti­pa­tion).

months ago.

What could be the cause?

While the ex­act cause of IBS-D is un­known, and peo­ple may have IBS for more than one rea­son, an im­bal­ance in the usual num­bers and pro­por­tions of nor­mally healthy bac­te­ria in the di­ges­tive sys­tem (the gut mi­cro­biota) has been found in many peo­ple with IBS-D. The mi­cro­biota help di­gest and ab­sorb food and work with the im­mune sys­tem as a bar­rier against other micro­organ­isms that can cause disease. “One study of 109 pa­tients with IBS showed that 73 per cent had an im­bal­ance in their gut mi­cro­biota, com­pared with only 16 per cent of healthy peo­ple,” says Dr Franklin. “Other po­ten­tial rea­sons may in­clude pre­vi­ous gas­troin­testi­nal in­fec­tion or food poi­son­ing, com­mu­ni­ca­tion prob­lems be­tween the brain and di­ges­tive sys­tem, a fam­ily his­tory of IBS and other causes.”

Treat­ment op­tions

There is cur­rently no cure, but there are treat­ments that can help with the symp­toms of IBS-D. Life­style changes, such as elim­i­nat­ing cer­tain foods and in­creas­ing ex­er­cise, could help.

“Stud­ies have shown that be

tients failed to re­spond to ei­ther fi­bre or an­ti­spas­mod­ics as a treat­ment ther­apy,” says Dr Franklin. “There are dif­fer­ent types of pre­scrip­tion treat­ments for IBS-D. If one isn’t work­ing, it’s im­por­tant that pa­tients ask their health­care pro­fes­sional about try­ing a dif­fer­ent medicine to find what treat­ment is right for them.”

If you’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing symp­toms of IBS-D, don’t be afraid to talk to your doc­tor about all of them. This is the first step to­ward help­ing find a treat­ment plan and get­ting relief.

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