IBS Isn’t Real

I carry a special place in my heart for those suffering from IBS. The reason for this is because I was diagnosed with it over and over again. The issue I have with the diagnosis? IBS isn’t a real thing.

Now, let me be perfectly clear: the symptoms experienced by IBS sufferers are incredibly real, and they lead to a poorer quality of life than can be imagined by those who haven’t had close personal experience with the situation. In fact, studies have shown that people with digestive disorders tend to have a lower quality of life than those suffering from many other chronic issues, including cardiovascular problems. IBS is not something you can take your mind off of. It is there looming over you at every meal, every social gathering, and every time you get dressed. So what’s so unreal about this?

What Does IBS Mean?

IBS was a term created by doctors who were unable to diagnose a cause and effect relationship for a series of digestive disturbances. The term IBS was created as an umbrella term to place people experiencing a wide array of symptoms into one of two categories based on whether their symptoms were diarrhea or constipation predominant (IBS-D & IBS-C). To exemplify, this is the equivalent of going to the doctor with horrible shoulder pains, and being diagnosed with “unexplained shoulder pain syndrome”. Most people who get diagnosed with IBS are told they will just have to live with it. This is a pressing issue, as it puts limitations or halts on their search for a cure. But this search must go on.

The symptoms of IBS can be caused by so many different things, ranging from bacterial or parasitic infections to intestinal hyper-permeability or even low stomach acid. The list goes on. In addition, IBS has been identified to have an inflammatory component. The metainflammation theory states that all chronic illnesses stem from an inflammatory component, and when suffering from something like IBS which can keep your body in a constant state of low-grade inflammation, the body is being placed in a potentially dangerous situation that could cause further, more severe complications down the line.

This is not meant to panic anyone, but rather to reassure. If we search deep enough and are able to identify the cause, it is possible to eradicate the symptoms.

One great example is the work of Dr. Pimental, who is a leading researcher in the field of IBS. Pimental has identified a bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine to be causative for many cases of IBS, and has been using a combination of antibiotics and diet to cure people of their IBS, even those who have been suffering extreme symptoms for many years.

But it doesn’t stop there. The importance of gut health and microbial imbalances are becoming increasingly recognized as being behind many symptoms of digestive disturbance. These disturbances are often seen in obese individuals for example, who have been observed to possess a reduced number of Bifidobacteria and F. prausnitzii, which can increase inflammatory metabolic conditions. Another example is the countless individuals who have a damaged gut lining, allowing food particles to leak out of the gut and activate the immune system. There is a long list of issues like these to consider when searching for the root cause of your digestive symptoms.

What Can You Do About IBS?

If you have been diagnosed with IBS, I encourage you to continue your search, and to not be satisfied with your diagnosis. A great way to start is to get a comprehensive digestive stool analysis. This is different to the stool analyses that are done in hospitals or doctors’ offices, as they provide much more detailed feedback and give a clear picture of what your entire gut microflora look like. This can identify any pathogenic overgrowths as well, many of which are not generally looked at in typical stool tests, and cannot be seen during a colonoscopy or endoscopy.

If you are still searching or have already found your cause, please share your story. It’s important to motivate those suffering to continue searching. Your solution could be out there, even if you have been told otherwise.

To improve gut health with a scientist on your side, get daily tips using:

Anita Tee, Msc

Anita Tee is a nutritional scientist specializing in histamine intolerance and gut health. Anita carries a Master of Science in Personalized Nutrition and a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology, specializing in Genetic & Molecular Biology.

  • Lizz says:

    Thank you for your article! I was recently diagnosed with IBS after 2 years of suffering many symptoms. I refuse to believe my diagnosis and I wish to find a cure. I’ve always said IBS is just a doctor’s shoulder shrug. Where could I get more information on a digestive stool analysis? I’ve looked into hydrogen breath tests, but they seem pricey and not easy to get; would a stool analysis provide the same information as a hydrogen breath test?

  • Brian says:

    Eliminate pork,peanuts,corn, soy, and wheat. Start taking two digestive enzymes before each meal. This helps to break down fats, carbs and proteins. Take a probiotic on an empty stomach each day.
    Don’t put ice into your drinks; this will slow down digestion.

    • Candice says:

      Brian, this sounds like as much as a nuisance as the IBS itself. How easy do you find this to follow? I love food too much and wish I didn’t have to eliminate all my favourite things!

  • Candice says:

    Thank you for this blog!

    I don’t believe IBS is a proper diagnosis. I have suffered for 12 year and with each passing year it gets worse with no further support from my doctor.

    I was told my hypermobility is linked to my IBS but again I feel there is much more to it.

    I am glad I am not alone!

  • Andrea says:

    I, too, don’t believe IBS exists, being said from a person diagnosed over 25 years ago. My stomach issues stem from my anxiety. Once I got my anxiety under control, a whole new wonderful world opened up for me and the door to, “IBS” slammed shut. Keep looking! Your world can open up too. It is an amazing place to be, to not worry about your closest bathroom, to travel wherever you want, to be like everyone else, to enjoy life.

  • Liz says:

    I was diagnosed with IBS my entire life. Every time I got tested for something, I was told IBS but that was never a very good answer and it wasn’t something that was really treatable. I dealt with issues all through my childhood and college. Finally, I moved to a new state and “luckily” had to have knee surgery in January the year after I moved so my deductible was met quickly for the year. I decided to go to ALL the doctors the rest of the year just to get a THOROUGH body/heart/gut/etc checkup and in doing this was actually diagnosed with Celiac. This was back before gluten free was a trend and I thought the diagnosis and treatment (i.e. avoiding gluten) sounded so silly and so terrible. But years and years later I am living a much happier, healthier and comfortable life. Sometimes it just takes finding the one doctor that doesn’t want to write you off as just another whiney patient.

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