A research article published a couple of weeks ago described a blood test that might help to diagnose Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in Humans.
We do like to charm you with bowels whenever possible.
The good news?
Doctors now have a blood test that will work, but in less than 50% of people with IBS. One of the challenges with IBS is that the testing most doctors order for someone with the symptoms of IBS rarely shows anything abnormal. As a consequence, the doctors feel they do not have a clear diagnosis, and often begin to question if the person complaining of chronic pain and unpredictable diarrhea as simply crazy – and making up their symptoms.
Many a patient with debilitating abdominal pain and diarrhea find themselves referred to a psychiatrist. At least now, some of these patients will see something abnormal in their labs, allowing their doctors to make a firm diagnosis. The discovery of this blood test does nothing to suggest a treatment.
And the bad news?
Those doctors who refuse to make a diagnosis based on the history and clinical exam, and who insist on abnormal labs and imaging studies to make a diagnosis, will still miss the diagnosis in over half of the people who come to them with the symptoms of IBS.
You can read the article HERE
The findings that led to the development of this new lab test support some theories about IBS proposed for years. The lab test looks for markers of undesirable (dysbiotic) bacteria that live in the gut that can cause inflammation. Remember, this is a blood test, and the presence of these markers also supports the idea of “leaky gut syndrome”, where things, including toxic things, can get out of the gut into the bloodstream and body. The inflammation in the gut caused by the undesirable bacteria is probably the cause of the leaky gut syndrome.
What happens in the gut is extremely complex, and affected by many factors. There is nothing in this study that explains how changes in diet might help people with IBS, but the literature is full of studies that show a relation between what a person eats and the symptoms of IBS.
Modern varieties of wheat have shown to be one food that can cause inflammation in the gut for some people. Many people now diagnosed with “Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity”, or NCGS, have significant symptoms involving their gut that appear identical to the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
These symptoms disappear when you remove wheat from their diet. (Hint, hint)
There is an interesting blog that I follow called Health News Review. They did a nice article about this new research, which you can find HERE.
If you think you have IBS should you get this new test?
Our recommendation would be to first work with changes in your diet and lifestyle to see if that will control your problems. A comprehensive stool test that looks for undesirable bacteria at high levels, and that measures Secretory IgA (SIgA) in the stool as a measure of inflammation, might be better tests to start with.
These new tests are expensive, and even if they are positive, they do not open the door to new or special treatments.
If you are not taking a good probiotic, start taking one now.
Gut health proves always to be a complex issue in our modern world. So many things can play a role in regaining balance. We find again and again that paying attention to the foods you eat proves invaluable to your ability to understand the foods you might be sensitive to.
Certainly tests help, but use them as one component of a larger plan.
IBS an issue you struggle with? Willing to share a little about it?
Well make sure to leave a comment below so we can understand the first hand challenges of someone facing this issue day after day. Your insights might just help another.
Until next time – To Your Health.