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Functional & Integrative Medicine - Specialist Offers Insight Into Common Bowel Disorder

Specialist Offers Insight Into Common Bowel Disorder

Specialist Offers Insight Into Common Bowel Disorder

Claudia Karam, MD

Claudia Karam, MD

It’s not a pleasant topic of conversation, but that doesn’t change the fact that irritable bowel syndrome is a common medical disorder that drastically impacts an individual’s day-to-day life.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is characterized as a group of symptoms that occur together in the form of abdominal pain or discomfort and changes in bowel movements, including diarrhea, constipation or both. These symptoms are typically present without any visible signs of damage or disease in the digestive tract.

Between 25 and 45 million people in the U.S. live with IBS, and women are twice as likely to develop the disorder, according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders.

Many people might think IBS is a condition that would primarily affect the elderly, however, the National Institute of Health says people younger than 50 are more likely to develop the disorder than people older than 50.

IBS is considered a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder, which physicians now call disorders of gut-brain interactions. This means there’s a problem with how the brain and the gut work together, causing the gut to be more sensitive and change how the bowel muscles contract.

So what causes IBS?

The exact cause of the disorder, itself, is unknown; but there are things that may trigger an IBS flare-up.

Claudia Karam, MD, a physician with Hattiesburg Clinic Functional & Integrative Medicine, said there are various factors that might trigger an IBS episode, with a person’s diet playing a major role.

“Different food sensitivities can be triggers for IBS,” she said. “I usually use a personalized dietary plan that can help determine what particular foods these may be for a specific individual.”

But Karam said food is not the only culprit in triggering an IBS episode.

“Stress can also be a trigger for IBS symptoms and stress reduction with yoga, meditation, deep breathing or acupressure can all be effective techniques.”

In her practice, Karam uses a unique approach through the specialty of functional and integrative medicine whereby the patient’s history is considered, from birth to present, in an effort to examine all of the contributing factors that could have played a role in the patient’s current health.

She uses this approach to treat an array of health issues, including digestive disorders, such as IBS. The idea is that many health imbalances like these can be potentially restored to optimal function or significantly improved, depending on the case.

“One of the things we often evaluate in functional medicine is gut health, i.e., microbiome, and often when we restore the balance of our gut bacteria, relatively quick long-term recovery can be achieved from IBS without the need for medication,” said Karam.

April is International IBS Awareness Month. To learn more about this condition, visit the National Institute of Health’s website at www.niddk.nih.gov, or talk with your primary care provider. If you would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Claudia Karam, please call (601) 261-1690.

Katie Townsend

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