Why you should never ignore IBS
Irritable Bowel Syndrome. What is that anyway?
It is the diagnosis you get given when you feel bloated, have stomach pain and alternate between constipation and diarrhoea for no apparent reason. It’s a diagnosis of exclusion, the thing you are given because everything appears to be “normal”. Your blood tests are within range and the scopes are negative. It’s pretty much a, “We don’t know what’s wrong with you, but let’s call it this!” diagnosis.
Is this good enough? 1 in 5 people get diagnosed with this seemingly innocuous complaint.
When dealing with chronic illness and autoimmune disease, the most common thing we hear from our patients is:
"I seem to have had a gut problem for as long as I can remember."
This is because inflammation in the bowel often precedes an autoimmune diagnosis. IBS was your warning sign, your body has been trying to tell you something is wrong. It’s like driving a car with the red engine light on; we’re ignoring the warning signs and then wondering why we eventually break down.
This is the other thing we hear doctors tell our clients:
"Come back and see me if the problem gets worse."
The problem with this approach is that the real problem stays lurking underneath the surface, while you continue to suppress your symptoms by taking medications to relieve your bloating, constipation or diarrhoea. That’s like putting a bandaid over the red engine light, if you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean there’s no longer problem.
Allergies, skin problems, hormone issues, and bowel issues such as constipation and diarrhoea are ALWAYS present well before you ever get an autoimmune or disease diagnosis.
The problem is that IBS does progress!
It progresses to a state called inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which seemingly happens all of a sudden where there are signs of something wrong on your blood tests. When we look at your scopes, there are signs of redness, gastritis or inflammation of the gut.
A problem in the gut is usually post-infection up to a 1/3 of the time. That means that if you have had a bout of “gastro” (gastroenteritis) or “Bali Belly” you are more susceptible to IBS or IBD.
So what seems to be a fairly innocuous diagnosis is an infection for up to 1 in 3 people. So if your IBS is ever dismissed, what they are really saying is, “Come back when it gets worse so we can actually see that it’s worse.”
We believe that prevention is always better than cure. There are preventative steps that you can take before these simple IBS cases become inflammatory. More importantly, before these issues progress to autoimmune diseases like Crohns or Ulcerative Colitis.
If you are worried about your symptoms in the gut, if you have allergies or skin conditions and you want to try and help things before they get worse, we suggest booking a consultation with one of our functional medicine doctors.