IBS: You really can feel better

We offer an innovative approach to treating the disease

It’s not life-threatening. But irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is life-changing, sometimes drastically. Consider its symptoms: recurring abdominal bloating, pain and gas. Plus, chronic diarrhea, constipation or alternating bouts of both. 

Sometimes those symptoms are mostly a nuisance. But IBS — which can’t be cured — may also be so severe that those with it may be afraid to leave their homes and bathrooms.

“Still, only about one out every four people with IBS seeks medical care, often because of embarrassment,” says Michael Brown, MD, a gastroenterologist at Rush.

That’s far too many missed opportunities since, with the right care, even severe IBS is highly treatable. “There’s no such thing as a hopeless case,” Brown says. “IBS doesn’t have to disrupt your life.”

An expert team

Patients with IBS get state-of-the-art care at Rush Oak Park Hospital. That’s in contrast to what people with IBS frequently face. “I see so many patients who have only been given treatments that are documented to be ineffective,” Brown says. 

Rush Oak Park Hospital is one of the few area hospitals where IBS patients have access to not just gastroenterologists, but other specialists as well. Also helping patients lead normal lives: a dietitian, since certain foods can affect IBS. Since stress makes symptoms worse, your doctor can help you with ways to relieve stress.

This means patients benefit from truly comprehensive care. “We can hand-tailor treatment to what works best for each person,” Brown says.

Here’s a closer look at what’s offered:

Dietary interventions. With a dietitian’s help, patients often follow a diet that eliminates foods with certain carbohydrates, such as fructose and lactose. Multiple studies show that this diet helps ease symptoms, Brown says.

The latest medicine and remedies. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved three different prescription drugs for IBS. Doctors at Rush Oak Park Hospital tailor what drugs they prescribe based on individual patient needs — along with other effective treatments.

“We also counsel people about alternative remedies that evidence shows may improve symptoms,” Brown says. Among them: probiotics and herbal remedies, such as peppermint oil and artichoke leaf extract.

One-on-one counseling. This includes psychosocial therapy to relieve the emotional toll of IBS symptoms and training in relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and guided imagery.

Education and empathy. “Many people fear IBS is all in their head,” Brown says. “But we explain that it’s a real disease. We take the time to help patients fully understand IBS — and all their treatment options.”

To make an appointment with one of our gastroenterologists who specialize in treating IBS, call (708) 660-4636.