Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder characterized by multiple symptoms including abdominal pain or discomfort, cramping, constipation, diarrhea and bloating.

You Are Not Alone

If you experience two or more of these symptoms, you may be one of 40 million Americans suffering from IBS. Up to 70% of people who have IBS suffer in silence. The unpleasant nature of their symptoms are embarrassing to patients who are often reluctant to ask their doctors for help. Left untreated, IBS can affect virtually every aspect of life — from work and travel to recreational activities and relationships with family and friends. Some who do reach out for help are often told to “just learn to live with it.” Many others wait years after their symptoms begin before receiving treatment. To make matters worse, medical treatments often fall short of relieving the full range of IBS, dashing the hopes of escaping its day-to-day burden. It’s not surprising that IBS affects quality of life as much or more than other common diseases such as congestive heart failure or diabetes.

A Real Medical Problem

The nature of IBS symptoms makes diagnosis difficult. IBS symptoms often mimic other diseases, requiring that patients undergo extensive work-ups before being diagnosed. While many diagnostic tests are useful in evaluating specific GI diseases, it may not be necessary to undergo all of them to establish a definitive IBS diagnosis. A correct diagnosis involves recognizing the clinical symptoms of IBS. For some symptoms may involve persistent abdominal pain that is relieved by a bowel movement. Others may notice a change in frequency of bowel movement or the way the stool looks (its form) at onset of pain. 
UB’s Breakthrough IBS Research
Many people with IBS are surprised to learn that there are proven clinical treatments for all types of IBS. Because there is no simple cure – and symptoms may come and go – learning to manage symptoms is important. Effective treatment involves controlling and reducing symptoms before they get out of hand. High quality research shows that even the most severe patients can reduce IBS symptoms.

Some of the most promising IBS work is led by researchers at the Behavioral Medicine Clinic (BMC) in the Department of Medicine at the UB School of Medicine. The BMC has received ongoing support from the National Institutes of Health since 1999 to develop and test non-drug treatments that help patients reduce and control GI symptoms unresponsive to medications or diet changes. By teaching patients to make targeted changes to behavior that aggravate symptoms, these behavioral treatments work much the same way that patients with hypertension learn to lower their blood pressure or patients with diabetes learn to control insulin levels. These treatments appear at least as effective as dietary options or medications – without their side effects.

In a recently published study, UB researchers noted that 75% of IBS patients reported significant improvement in IBS symptoms at the end of treatment. These improvements were accompanied by improved quality of life, increased control over symptoms, and peace of mind. Remarkably, half of the patients achieved enduring benefits after only four clinic visits. The clinical benefits of the behavioral treatments developed at the UB were detailed in the New England Journal of Medicine, and identified the UB program as one of the few evidence based treatments available for IBS patients.

WNY Resource:

If you have frequent abdominal pain or discomfort, diarrhea and/or, constipation and are looking for relief, call 716 898-4458 or e-mail Learn more at YouTube by entering the keyword IBSOS in the search bar and watch the UB video. Treatment is provided at no cost to eligible participants.