Life with IBS is unpredictable and disruptive. The patient may wake up feeling fine, eats a good breakfast and starts the drive to work. Suddenly, there is painful stomach cramping that forces the patient to pull off the road in search of a bathroom. Patients spend a great deal of time and money trying to get an accurate diagnosis and often end up discouraged.

Shifting focus

"Many IBS patients report an incident of food poisoning. The latest IBS research indicates food poisoning can trigger a cascade of microscopic changes that damage intestinal function."

While there have been a number of hypotheses on the causes of IBS, the focus is now on the composition of our gut microbiome; the trillions of intestinal microorganisms that play a critical role in keeping us healthy.

Many IBS patients report an incident of food poisoning. The latest IBS research indicates food poisoning can trigger a cascade of microscopic changes that damage intestinal function.

A light in the dark

There is hope for IBS patients. Recent large-scale clinical trials have shown that antibiotics improve IBS symptoms, providing more evidence that bacterial infections play a key role. In studies, the antibiotic rifaximin proved very effective in treating the disease and could be the first true microbiome therapy. It currently awaits FDA approval for treating IBS.

Other therapies in the pipeline include inhibiting methane production by gut bugs to help with IBS constipation. Investigations at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center are focusing on new diagnostic breath and blood tests, as well as microbiome therapies. Patients have good reason to be encouraged about a future where IBS is no longer a debilitating life-long disease but one that could be treated easily and effectively.