If you have ever been assigned a diagnosis of IBS, you may not have felt particularly connected to the term. 

In the past, the term IBS felt like a ‘catch all’ diagnosis that patients were awarded with if they had non-specific digestive symptoms where we couldn’t find some other cause. 

It’s common for us to work with patients who casually mention their digestive symptoms or their past “IBS” diagnosis without considering how vital it is to both acknowledge and treat, and how your IBS diagnosis may be influencing how you feel today – even if your digestive symptoms are quiet right now.  

The current understanding of IBS is much more complex than it was 10 or 15 years ago, and includes acknowledgement of the connection between the nervous system and digestion. Patients with IBS have increased visceral hypersensitivity, meaning that their nervous system has a lower set point for pain and discomfort than other patients. 

Why is it important to acknowledge this? Because it’s likely showing up elsewhere in your healthcare experience. 

Patients with IBS are at an increased risk of

  • Depression and anxiety
  • PMS
  • Menstrual cramps 
  • Chronic headaches
  • Bladder symptoms
  • Poor sleep
  • Fibromyalgia and other pain disorders

 

When IBS is left unacknowledged and untreated, it creates a barrier to helping a patient become symptom free and by addressing IBS symptoms, patients can often have improvement in their menstrual cramps, pain, mood symptoms and insomnia. 

Even if your IBS doesn’t show up in your life every day, it’s important to communicate your digestive distress (bloating, distention, pain and diarrhea) to your practitioner. Even if it’s not the primary reason you’re working with your doctor, coexisting IBS can present a barrier to achieving total symptom improvement and the health you desire. 

Our patients that successfully reduce their bloating follow three key health habits daily, and we’ve shared that resource for our readers here. You can download our guide written by Dr. Dominique Vanier ND, our digestive-focused Naturopathic Doctor.