IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, is a condition that affects between 25 and 45 million people in the US. Patients are typically classified as having one of three different types of IBS; IBS-C, IBS-D or IBS-A. The C stands for constipation, the D stands for diarrhea and the A stands for alternating between diarrhea and constipation. Symptoms can change over time, but the main symptom, such as diarrhea, is how a healthcare professional would describe a patient’s IBS.
If your doctor has diagnosed you with IBS-D, the negative impact to your life can be substantial. It can affect your quality of life, your employment and your personal relationships. Unfortunately, few drug treatment options are available to help your IBS.
No one knows what causes IBS, so physicians often diagnose a patient with IBS –D after looking at other conditions that look similar to IBS. Common conditions that could look like IBS include inflammatory bowel disease, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and food allergies. A less common cause that should be considered is sugar intolerance.
How do you know your physician looked at every possible condition before labeling you as an IBS sufferer? The short answer is you do not know.
A sugar intolerance is when you do not have functioning intestinal enzymes to properly digest sugar. When that happens, you may experience diarrhea. Since there are different types of sugars, it will be important to identify exactly which specific sugar is causing your problems. If you have lactose intolerance, then you can easily eliminate it from your diet to avoid diarrhea. However, if the sugar intolerance is because of fructose or sucrose, then it could be harder to eliminate those types of sugars since they are used in so many foods.
If you believe you may have a sugar intolerance, ask your doctor. There are different ways to test for sugar intolerance. Regardless of what test your doctor uses, make sure that your doctor is looking at all of the main sugars, including lactose, fructose and sucrose. Each sugar may require a different test. If you can find out the real reason why you are experiencing diarrhea, then there may be a treatment that can better manage your stomach issues.
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