Female Speaker: Dr. Charlene Prather is a Gastroenterologist and associate professor internal medicine at Saint Louis University. She understands why diagnosing irritable bowel syndrome maybe difficult.
Dr. Charlene Prather: Positions really like to make specific diagnosis that they found very comfortable with. For instance, with this problem of the heart they may see an EKG abnormality or there might be chest X-ray abnormality. We don't have a diagnostic test that tells us as if someone has IBS. So there are many positions and other practitioners who just aren't comfortable with making the diagnosis.
Female Speaker: Not only other no precise test that can pin point the existence of IBS, but it's cause and symptoms may vary with each person as well.
Dr. Charlene Prather: What causes IBS? That is something that is still being investigated. Now we do know there are different things that influenced this development of symptoms in irritable bowel syndrome. Certainly there are some individuals who notice that stress will increase their IBS where other people to certain food that there might be. I don't really believe that stress or foods causes IBS and they tend to exacerbate an underlying condition.
Female Speaker: IBS is believed to stem from abnormalities and so this called gut area of our internal organs. This area consists of muscle and nerves and controls have our food moves through out digestive process. Problems at the nerve level here can be affected by IBS causing great discomfort or pain.
Dr. Charlene Prather: Now we certainly don't have this all figured out. However, we have identified abnormalities and Serotonin in some IBS patients. This is important, this is a new finding.
Female Speaker: Daphan Fox of Saint Louis is a former music teacher and life long educator who enjoys working in her garden and collecting antiques. Daphan was experiencing nausea and stomach problems. It took more than a year to get properly diagnosed. Irritable Bowel Syndrome typically affects from their late teens to their mid 40s. Since Daphan was outside of that range when her symptoms occurred, Doctors needed to rule out more serious illness.
Daphan Fox: I went to a Gastroenterologist whom I really, really like who would help me with very minor things and he is the one who began to think it was cancer, either it was colon cancer and did several tests and found out that wasn't what it was and then sent me to a pancreatic specialist because they began to believe that was pancreatic cancer.
Dr. Charlene Prather: Here is your electrolyte, which is little quite good.
Daphan Fox: Oh that's good. Isn't it?
Dr. Charlene Prather: Of course.
Female Speaker: Fortunately, for Daphan, her diagnosis of IBS is not life threatening. But the illness itself can be life altering.
Daphan Fox: I couldn't leave the house for days because of that. It changes once life totally.
Dr. Charlene Prather: With Irritable Bowel Syndrome there is different presentations that patients may have. There are some patients who may have a diarrhea predominance sort of symptom pattern. For instance, when these individuals eat the main, you know have to rush to the bathroom right away. There is another group of individuals that have great difficulty and even having a bowel movement. We call this a constipation predominant group of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. And then there is another group of individuals that really alternate between the two, they may have appeared with a constipated, and then suddenly they have diarrhea that they just can't stop.
Female Speaker: Maria Lynch began experiencing the typical symptoms of IBS 20 years ago.
Maria Lynch: When I was a teen-ager, I had a lot of stomach aches, but I really didn't know what was the problem and I just thought it was my nerves basically, nervous stomach; starting the high school.
Female Speaker: Through high school and into college, she also learned to deal with the consequences of IBS.
Maria Lynch: When I was in college we walked to night clubs, if I had a stomach ache I would be -- an hour and my girlfriends delighted -- I said no.
Female Speaker: As Maria grew older, life became more stressful, which made her condition even worse.
Maria Lynch: I went to ER twice in the last 10 years for stomach pains that turned out to be what they I wished as gas. They may feel so worried and I said it was gas, you know pretty much like overreacting, but at the time it was --
Female Speaker: As Maria's problem persisted she continued to search for a cause. At the age of 40, she had a complete physical examination and finally was told that she did in fact have more than just a problem with gas.
Maria Lynch: I'm so happy to know that it was not in my head and to know that in changing the lifestyle can avoid the stomach aches that now it just become incorporated in my life that I avoid the things that would cause it.
Female Speaker: As both Maria and Daphan discovered, once IBS has been diagnosed there are several options to help to manage their condition.
Dr. Charlene Fox: Understanding and learning more about your condition and what you have at your disposal to control these symptoms, the combination of medicine, but also other healthy living strategies really can help you manage your IBS much more effectively.
Female Speaker: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists notes that IBS may be responsible for almost half of all cases of chronic pelvic pain. So, to receive proper diagnosis and the most effective treatment communication between doctor and patient is a key.
Maria Lynch: Being a navigate hero in health, definitely speak to your doctor. Tell them what you suspect, tell them everything as they can help you with that information.
Daphan Fox: You will get better, you can have a life, but not if you are sitting at home and doing nothing to try to make it better.