New research could help those with symptoms of irritible bowel syndrome

Forty-five million Americans struggle with irritable bowel syndrome and the discomfort from it often brings-stomach pain, constipation, or diarrhea.

But, those patients who have been unable to find relief from traditional treatment may not actually have IBS.

Instead, it could be a newly-diagnosed digestive condition, and one doctor may have a remedy for it.
There was a time when Deborah Wilson hated to eat in public.

"I was so afraid of the consequences of eating," she said.

Wilson would eat - and run - to the nearest restroom. As a result, she started to waste away. At one point, she hit 98 pounds. Doctors told her it was irritable bowel syndrome. But IBS treatments didn't work.

"I started getting different tests done, but nobody could figure out what was wrong."

Mount Sinai School of Medicine Gastroenterologist Saad Habba ordered a nuclear test of Wilson's gallbladder and discovered the organ wasn't working.

"We are stuck with a patient that had chronic diarrhea, diagnosed with IBS, that didn't get any better," Habba explained.

Habba then prescribed Wilson the same medication taken by patients who have had their gallbladders surgically removed. Wilson takes a pill now before every meal to end sudden diarrhea.

"I'm encouraging all the patients to go back to their physicians and say this, ‘Do more, there is something wrong here,” Habba said.

He says if you are not getting better using traditional IBS methods, insist the doctor check your gallbladder.

Habba wrote about his research in medical journals and now the condition of a malfunctioning gallbladder is known as Habba Syndrome.

TOPIC: Habba Syndrome or Irritable Bowel?
REPORT: MB #3795

BACKGROUND: Habba Syndrome can cause chronic diarrhea or three or more bowel movements per day for at least three months. The diarrhea is mostly after meals. Because of this, patients are usually looking for a bathroom wherever they go also known as "bathroom mapping". The symptoms can cause social embarrassment and interference with daily activities. Some patients stay home because they are afraid of social embarrassment. Some even lose weight.

SIGNS/SYMPTOMS: The Habba Syndrome is a dysfunction of the gall bladder. There is inappropriate bile in the gastrointestinal tract. It can cause painful stools which are watery and without blood. Most of the patients have normal gallbladder ultrasounds. Even the presence of gallstones on an ultrasound does not rule out the diagnosis of the syndrome.

NEW TREATMENT: Therapy is aimed at changing the constitution of bile acids to decrease the diarrheal effect of the bile acids. Agents that bind the bile acids have been proven to be safe, effective and inexpensive. They should be used one half hour before meals to bind the bile acids so they are effective. Cholestyramine, Colestipol and Colesevelam are some of the medicines that can be used to treat the symptoms. Some patients are diagnosed with IBS. This can be a "catch all" or "wastebasket" diagnosis. When patients are tagged with an IBS diagnosis, they can be dissatisfied and continue to change physicians in hopes of getting relief. Physicians should continue tests on the patients to get an exact diagnosis so it can be treated accordingly. (Source:


Saad Habba, MD
Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Office: (908) 273-3434

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas

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