I was pretty excited to see the American College of Gastroenterology releasing new recommendations today on the treatment if Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Not because I’m all excited about IBS, but the recommendations include some patients being tested for celiac disease!
Many people in the celiac community complain that for a time before their diagnosis they were told by a doctor that they had IBS, and their symptoms continued on or to worsen. In a news release put out today, IBS is described as a “chronic disorder of the lower intestine that causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and/or diarrhea that affects 10-15% of the U.S. population.”
According to the news release these are the most significant recommendations:
- Most patients with typical IBS symptoms and no alarm features such as bleeding, weight loss, or a family history of colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease or celiac sprue, do not need extensive diagnostic testing before confidently diagnosing IBS.
- IBS patients with diarrhea or a mixture of diarrhea and constipation should be screened with blood tests for celiac disease, a condition in which one cannot tolerate the gluten protein found in wheat and other grains.
- When patients with IBS and diarrhea undergo colonoscopy, biopsies should be obtained to rule out a rare disease called microscopic colitis.
- The use of anti-depressants, tricyclic agents and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, can be helpful for some patients with IBS.
The news release went into much more detail about IBS and other treatments that were unrelated to celiac disease, so I did not include them here, but I think this is a big milestone. I tend to have an internal eye roll for most people who say they have IBS, in part because I figure they’ve never been tested for celiac disease. I know not everyone who has a stomach ache or gas has celiac and that is something I need to get over. But the seemingly vague and catch-all diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome leaves me skeptical.
But if these guidelines catch on with doctors (and I hope they do) it at least addresses some potential cases of celiac disease. And that deserves a pat on the back.