Irritable bowel syndrome. IBS. What is that anyway?
It is the diagnosis you get when you feel bloated, have stomach pain and alternate between diarrhoea or constipation. It’s the diagnosis of exclusion, the thing you have been given because everything is normal. Your blood tests are fine, and the scopes are negative. So it is kind of like a, “We don’t know” diagnosis.
Yet 1 in 5 people get diagnosed with this seemingly innocuous complaint.
Over the last 15 years of helping clients with autoimmune issues, the most common thing I hear is, “I seem to have had a gut problem for as long as I can remember.”
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. They are signs that your body has been trying to tell you something is wrong. It’s like driving a car with the red engine light on; we are ignoring the warning signs.
Quite often, nothing is done for IBS. “Come back and see us if your situation gets worse.”
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.