Irritable Bowel Syndrome is one of the most commonly diagnosed gastrointestinal issues. The Syndrome affects people of all ages and its symptoms can vary from person to person. Regardless of the symptoms, IBS patients all experience the anxiety and pressure of dealing with their condition.
“IBS is a syndrome, not a disease,” said Virtua gastroenterologist Jamie Kasper, MD. “IBS sufferers actually have a colon that appears normal but acts abnormally.” Symptoms can vary but usually include a combination of cramping, stomach pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation.
“There is not just one answer to dealing with IBS,” Dr. Kasper continued. “IBS can be a difficult topic of discussion for many people; however, it is very important for patients to have open discussions with their physicians to ensure that a successful treatment plan can be implemented. We want to remove the stigma associated with IBS so patients get the help they need to achieve the ultimate goal—getting back to living their lives.”
Dr. Kasper explained that there are dietary and situational triggers that seem to aggravate IBS symptoms. She recommends that her IBS patients avoid the foods that worsen symptoms. The common dietary triggers are caffeine, chocolate, fried/ fatty/ spicy foods, fruit, beans, dairy products, carbonated beverages and alcohol.
Stress is considered a significant trigger as well as hormonal changes in women.
A diagnosis of IBS is made after more serious gastrointestinal issues are ruled out. Unlike inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, IBS doesn’t cause damage to your colon and doesn’t increase your risk of developing colon cancer.
Treatments are varied and include taking anti-spasmodic medicines and participating in stress relief remedies such as yoga, meditation and biofeedback. Dr. Kasper often recommends that IBS patients remove items from their diets to assess the effect on their digestive system—for example, going gluten-free for a while even if they don’t have Celiac Disease. The goal of all treatments is to control the symptoms so IBS sufferers can get back to the activities that they avoid because of IBS—to get back to living the life they were meant to live.
As one of New Jersey’s largest, non-profit health systems, Virtua provides comprehensive health care services to achieve its mission to help people be well, get well and stay well. Virtua provides services through Virtua Medical Group with 500 physicians and other clinicians, and at its urgent care centers, hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, health and wellness centers, fitness centers, home health services, long-term care and rehabilitation centers, and paramedic program. A leader in maternal and child health services, Virtua delivers nearly 8,000 babies a year. It provides health services to 1,500 businesses, and participates in Virtua Physician Partners, a clinically integrated network of 1,000 physicians and other clinicians.
Virtua is affiliated with Penn Medicine for cancer and neuroscience and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) for pediatrics. It employs over 9,000 and has been honored as the #1 Best Place to Work in the Delaware Valley many times since 2007. It is the recipient of a 4-star rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for quality of care, and its hospitals earned straight A’s in patient safety by The Leapfrog Group and the 2016 Patient Safety Award from Healthgrades. U.S. News and World Report ranked Virtua’s Mount Holly and Voorhees hospitals as High Performing Hospitals and Voorhees as a Best Regional Hospital. Virtua is also the recipient of the Consumer Choice Award from the National Research Corporation.