By Lindsey Craun, Clinical Trials of Texas, Inc.
SAN ANTONIO - Imagine waiting in line at a crowded coffee shop, settling into your seat for a Friday night movie, or presenting a budget proposal to your coworkers, when suddenly, it hits. You know the feeling well, you’ve felt it before. You need a bathroom – now.
Millions of men and women across the country experience similar scenarios on a regular basis due to a condition called Irritable Bowel Syndrome. While IBS isn’t considered a severe disease, its unfortunate symptoms interfere with daily activities and often drive sufferers to avoid common social situations and sexual activity.
Though people experience a variety of symptoms, IBS typically falls into three categories: those who suffer from diarrhea, constipation, or both. Other symptoms include abdominal discomfort, cramping, gas and/or mucus in the stool.
The exact cause of IBS remains in question, but we do understand what happens inside of the body to produce its symptoms. It all begins along the digestive tract. The small and large intestines are lined with layers of muscle tissue that contract in a rhythmic pattern to push food from the stomach, into the intestines and out of the rectum. For people with IBS, these contractions are more powerful and last longer than those of the average person. This causes food to pass through the digestive tract faster than normal, causing gas, bloating and diarrhea in the process. Some people find that certain types of food such as chocolate, milk or alcohol, may aggravate their symptoms. Others note stress as a common trigger.
While many people suffer from IBS symptoms, some are at higher risk. Research shows that more women than men are diagnosed with the condition, and that those with close relatives suffering from IBS are more likely to experience symptoms as well.
Physicians often diagnose an individual with IBS after confirming a series of symptoms and ruling out similar gastrointestinal disorders. Most doctors verify that patients experience abdominal discomfort for at least 12 weeks along with two of the following: mucus in the stool, bloating, urgency, or a change in the stool’s consistency or frequency. Patients with more severe symptoms may be further tested for other conditions, infection, or malabsorption.
Because its cause is uncertain, IBS has no cure. However, years of research have provided doctors with the information necessary to treat its symptoms. Those seeking medical attention for IBS are often advised to actively manage their stress levels and diet. Physicians may offer additional suggestions for more severe cases, such as fiber supplements, anti-diarrheal medicine or avoiding foods that cause gas.
There is still much to learn about IBS and you might be able to help. Clinical Trials of Texas is now conducting a study to test an investigational medication for those who suffer from IBS with diarrhea, bloating and abdominal discomfort. If you’ve experienced these symptoms intermittently over the past three months, suffer from diarrhea-related IBS, had trouble seeking relief from your symptoms, and are at least 18 years old, you may be eligible to participate in the study. Those who qualify will receive compensation for time and travel along with investigational medication and study-related care from a local doctor. Please call (210) 949-0122 or visit SAresearch.com