I want to share my responses to some of the most common myths that I hear my patients or friends & family talk about in relation to IBS.
IBS IS A DIAGNOSIS
IBS is not a diagnosis it is a collection of symptoms. The tag IBS is given to people who share a collection of symptoms.
The term diagnosis literally means the “identification of the nature of an illness”. Giving someone the IBS classification does not tell us anything about the cause of their symptoms, it just tells us they have a set pattern of symptoms.
There is something called the Rome Criteria for diagnosing IBS. But I would argue to say that these criteria just allow people to be lumped into the IBS category, again not telling us anything about the cause of illness.
The current Rome Criteria state to be given the IBS tag you must have abdominal pain at least 1d per week for 3 months and also have 2 or more of pain related to defecation, change in stool frequency, and/or change in stool form or appearance.
So if you fit these criteria you may be given the diagnosis of IBS. But I challenge you to look past that. You need to continue to ask why do I have this collection of symptoms, what is causing my IBS. An IBS diagnosis does not answer any questions, it just gives you another label.
THERE IS NO TREATMENT FOR IBS
This one continues from the last one. Many people are given an IBS diagnosis and then told there is not treatment for it. This is because you can’t properly treat a collection of symptoms without a cause. You need to treat the cause - and IBS is not a cause.
So I guess technically you can’t treat IBS, you need to find the root cause of your IBS and treat that.
But I want you to know that there are treatment options.
One of the most common causes of IBS is SIBO, which is treatable. It’s not always the easiest thing to treat but it is treatable.
YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE IBS
I alluded to this in the last one, but no you do not need to deal with IBS forever. If you can find the root cause of your IBS, treat that, then do some additional healing to strengthen your gut, and finally incorporate daily gut healthy practices you should not have to deal with IBS forever.
IF YOU HAVE IBS YOU WILL HAVE TO EAT A RESTRICTED DIET FOREVER
Again, no. This is not true.
A lot of the time people with IBS end up on restricted diets like the low FODMAP diet because they are the only things that can help them control their symptoms. And this is fantastic, especially if you have been dealing with disruptive symptoms for a long time. I am not against these diets at all, but I am against people thinking that they have to eat this way forever.
If you do not find the root cause of your symptoms then yes you may need to eat this way forever. But, if you find the root cause, which is definitely what I’m advocating for here, you should be able to reintroduce many of the foods that you were previously restricting.
IBS IS SIMILAR TO IBD
I think because of the similar acronyms IBS and IBD can get confused. But when you break them down you will see they are very different.
IBS = irritable bowel syndrome
IBD = inflammatory bowel disease
IBD unlike IBS is a proper diagnosis. It is an autoimmune condition where your body attacks the lining of your digestive tract. IBD includes both Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis.
They are also not linked. IBS doesn’t not cause IBD or vice versa.