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Functional Bowel Center

Though usually benign, many patients with functional bowel disease, particularly irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and Crohn's Disease, feel helpless and frustrated. These conditions are challenging to cope with due to their chronic and debilitating impact on your quality of life.

Our highly experienced team at the AHN Center for Digestive Health Functional Bowel Center offer effective treatment plans that can help you to manage these conditions and live life more normally.

Although IBS may be a lifelong-condition for many, symptoms can oftentimes be improved dietary changes and stress management techniques. For more severe cases, certain medications may also be helpful. BS is a gastrointestinal disorder that leads to abdominal pain, altered bowel habits, increased gas, bloating, cramping and intolerance of certain foods. It is a distinctly separate condition from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which causes long-lasting inflammation in parts of the digestive tract and includes such conditions as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Although IBS and IBD may generate similar symptoms for patients, they involve very different treatments. This is why it is essential for patients to receive an accurate diagnosis from specialists who can help to manage the condition properly. The Functional Bowel Center unites specialists in gastroenterology, nutrition, integrated medicine and psychology to evaluate you, determine a precise diagnosis and formulate a comprehensive treatment plan.

Functional Bowel Center: 412.359.8956
Erie residents call: 814.452.2767

Tests & Diagnosis

Diagnosing IBS may also include ruling out other conditions. If you fit the IBS criteria and don't have any red flag signs or symptoms, your doctor may suggest a course of treatment without doing additional testing.

Additional testing may include:

Flexible sigmoidoscopy examines the lower part of your intestine by inserting a flexible, lighted tube called a sigmoidoscope into your rectum and advancing up to part of your colon.
 

Colonoscopy allows the doctor to examine the entire length of your large intestine. It involves inserting an endoscope, which is a long, flexible, lighted tube, through the rectum and into your colon. In addition to allowing visualization of the entire colon, the colonoscope enables the doctor to access the bowel with additional instruments. During a colonoscopy, the doctor may remove tissue (biopsy) for examination under a microscope.

X-rays are sometimes performed to obtain an image of your colon.

Computed tomography scan (CT or CAT scan) uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan is more detailed than general X-rays and shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat and organs.

Lower GI (gastrointestinal) series (also called barium enema) is a procedure that examines the rectum, the large intestine, and the lower part of the small intestine. Barium is given into the rectum as an enema. An X-ray of the abdomen shows strictures (narrowed areas), obstructions (blockages), and other problems.

Lactose intolerance test may also be required. Lactase is an enzyme needed to digest the sugar found in dairy products. If you don't produce this enzyme, you may have symptoms similar to those caused by IBS.

Blood tests can rule out celiac disease, which is an immune based reaction to gluten found in wheat, barley and rye. It may cause symptoms similar to IBS.

Stool tests may be performed to examine your stool for bacteria or parasites.

Treatments

There are several possible mechanisms that are associated with irritable bowel syndrome. As such treatment focuses on relieving your symptoms, and improving your quality of life. In most cases, you can successfully control mild IBS symptoms by learning to manage stress and making changes in your diet and physical activity. For instance, you can avoid foods that trigger your symptoms, exercise regularly, drink plenty of water and get an appropriate amount of sleep.

If your problems are moderate or severe, you may need more than lifestyle changes, including any of the following:

Dietary changes:

  • Eliminating certain foods, including carbonated beverages, certain vegetables and raw fruits.
  • Eliminating gluten (wheat, barley and rye), which is only helpful in a very small number of people
  • Eliminating certain types of carbohydrates like fructose and lactose
 

Medications:

  • Fiber supplements
  • Anti-diarrheal medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Antibiotics
  • Other prescribed medications