Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
One can find more than enough of informative pages dedicated
to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), its symptoms, causes, treatments
etc. etc. Hence there is no need for repeating all this, but
there is one important issue that is rarely discussed. This will be talked
If you have been told you have IBS and there is no
hope for it, and probably you have been given a long list of foods
to avoid there is a strong chance they got it wrong. It is suggested
that the symptoms of IBS may be attributed to lactose intolerance.
Nearly all searches conducted conclude that a lactose free diet
or a diet supplemented with lactase enzyme resulted in subsided
symptoms for more than half of the of IBS subjects! That is right,
if you have been on a strict and regimental diet for years carry
on reading, because this could be your lucky day.
Misdiagnosis of IBS
The first web site I published back in January 2000 concentrated
mainly on lactose intolerance. However, I included a page with some
information about (IBS) because they both have similar symptoms
and there is a possibility of a misdiagnosis.
Three months after the publication I received an email from Bahrain.
The reader was misdiagnosed with IBS but after coming across my
web site he realised that he was 'simply' lactose intolerant rather
than suffering from IBS. For 15 years he stood by a stringent diet
excluding a long list of foods. He now just follows a lactose free
diet and enjoys the rest of foods he omitted for all those years.
Nowadays you can go a step further and supplement your diet with
commercially available lactase enzymes that break down the lactose
in milk and dairy. So not only you can go back on the other foods
but also enjoy some cheese and biscuits. If you have been diagnosed
with IBS, there is nothing to loose, just omit lactose from your
diet and introduce foods, one by one you have not had for a long
time. Make sure you keep a diary and write everything on it. Allow
at least a week or two before you introduce another food as long
as your symptoms have not returned.
IBS is a multi- symptom gastrointestinal motility disorder that
have a wide clinical spectrum and is associated with symptoms of
gastrointestinal dysmotility and visceral hypersensitivity. Symptoms
of IBS overlap other gastrointestinal conditions including coeliac
(celiac) disease and lactose intolerance. Many medical reviews and
researches demonstrate that a significant number of patients with
IBS experience improvement with symptoms if either avoiding lactose
foods or take lactase enzyme supplements (Tolliver et al.
J Clin Gastroenterology 1996 Jul;23(1):15-7).
In a study in Italy, similar results were achieved. Vernia
et al. report that 157 (68%) of the 240 diagnosed with
IBS had lactose intolerance. They were asked to follow a lactose
free diet and 110 of them did, while the rest did not. 48 of the
110 persons who followed a lactose free diet had their symptoms
subside, 43 had their symptoms reduced significantly and only the
remaining 19 showed no improvement (Ital J Gastroenterology 1995
Further studies published in the Lancet by Jones et al.
(Lancet. 1982 Nov 20;2(8308):1115-7.) find that IBS in some individuals
is provoked by food intolerances such as carbohydrate intolerance
including fructose and sorbitol (Goldstrein et al. Isr
Med Assoc J. 2000 Aug;2(8):583-7). For more details on food intolerance
and how to treat it visit the
section. Finally, several researches published in medical gazettes
concluded that more than half of the people diagnosed with IBS are
lactose mal-absorbers and simply by following a lactose free diet,
or supplementing it with lactase enzyme they can function a normal
life avoiding huge costs for both themselves and the health-care
Lactose Intolerance Symptoms
The table below lists the symptoms of Lactose Intolerance. You
may notice similar if not identical symptoms to IBS.
||not enough enzymes to breakdown the sugars, such
as lactose consumed in foods.
||starts later in childhood but most common in adults,
may be temporarily present in the form of colic in babies.
affect the digestive system only:
gas and wind
Some may experience vomiting. The magnitude of the
above symptoms are inversely related to the amount of
enzyme produced. Some people can produce less than others.