The month of April is designated as National IBS Awareness Month. Here’s an interview I did this week on IBS for KXL radio in Portland, Oregon.
I liked this great article with 10 News Highlights to Mark IBS Awareness Month. I have had a close connection to irritable bowel syndrome since I was diagnosed with it at age 13. Science has come so far since then! At the time, IBS was a diagnosis of exclusion. Meaning, they ruled out Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (which my aunt had, and tends to run in families). First they gave me a barium enema and analyzed my stool samples. When they couldn’t find anything wrong, they labeled my problem as “Irritable Bowel.”
I am amazed at how far we have come since my diagnosis 30 years ago. Last year, a blood test called IBSChek became available. This test came from studies conducted by Dr. Mark Pimentel and his team at Cedars-Sinai. Their research points to a new concept… that IBS may start after a bout of food poisoning.
A snapshot of what’s new in IBS:
- An antibiotic called Xifaxan (generic: rifaximin) was also approved last year for use with IBS-D. You may have even seen the commercial for Xifaxan during the Super Bowl! The interesting thing is that Xifaxan is used to treat small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, also known as SIBO. The colon is typically where we find the greatest concentration of bacteria in the digestive system. Sometimes, microbes can migrate backwards up into the small intestine, where they “set up camp.” This overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine causes symptoms of gas, bloating, diarrhea, and even constipation… the symptoms commonly associated with IBS! In my experience, insurance has been only covering Xifaxan for those diagnosed with IBS-D. If you have IBC-C, Xifaxan may be effective, but you will likely have to pay out of pocket for the medication (around $2000).
- There’s also another promising new medication in the pipeline for IBS called Viberzi.
- In a recent study, a Gluten Free diet (patients were educated by dietitians) in IBS patients significantly improved symptoms.
If you have IBS like I do, this is an exciting time. We may soon have not just medications, but treatment options that can possibly cure this disorder.
I apologize this isn’t my best written work, we are heading to LA today for a mini family vacation. : )