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Does an IBS Cure Exist?

Written by Beth Holloway, RN, M.Ed

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

First, a little bit of information about IBS or irritable bowel syndrome. It is a common functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder which means it changes how the bowel or intestines function or work. The symptoms of IBS are similar to many other GI conditions. 

The GI symptoms of IBS are: constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort or pain. It is also common to have underlying psychological symptoms, like anxious or depressed feelings, with the GI symptoms. 

Serious GI symptoms

A person may have symptoms that they think are IBS, but they may mean something more serious.

Symptoms like those described for IBS (above) with any of the following: low iron in the blood (anemia), blood in the stool, weight loss, a fever, a family history of colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or symptoms that started after age 50 may mean a serious condition. The person should contact their doctor for an appointment.

Curable vs. Incurable?

What does it mean if a condition is curable or not? 

When a condition is considered curable, it means with treatment, it will go away. As an example, a sore throat due to a strep infection goes away when a person takes several days of an antibiotic medicine. In other words, strep throat is curable.

When a condition is incurable it means even with treatment, it won’t go away. A person may receive treatment and have improved symptoms, but they will still have the condition. For example, a person with high blood pressure (hypertension) may take medicine to control their blood pressure, but they still have hypertension.

Is IBS Curable?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is not curable. There is no medicine that you can take that will stop IBS. However, IBS symptoms may lessen, go away for a while, or even go away altogether. Also, the symptoms can be effectively treated using the methods below.

Fewer IBS Symptoms

It is common for IBS to vary over time, often for no understandable reason. There are also times when diet, stress level, habits, overall health or other factors may be associated with changing symptoms. This is the nature of IBS.

Although IBS symptoms may get worse, they may also get better. This may be from day-to-day or they may get better for a period of time.

IBS Treatment

Although IBS isn’t curable, treatment can help lessen symptoms. Therapies may include medicines and supplements, changes to the diet and lifestyle, mind and body techniques, as well as exercise. Goodpath’s IBS program includes all of these treatments based on your symptoms and needs.

IBS Remission

A person with IBS may have a remission - symptoms may go away for long periods, and at times, never return. In studies of people with IBS one year after diagnosis, about 2 out of 5 people have long periods without symptoms. However, ten years after diagnosis, 3 out of 5 people have lasting symptoms.

The Bottom Line: Is IBS Curable?

There isn’t a cure for IBS. However, there is treatment that can help control your symptoms. An integrative approach may include: mind-body techniques; dietary changes, like the low FODMAP diet; nutritional supplements; over-the-counter and prescription medications; and physical activity and exercise.

If you think you have IBS, we’ll help you figure out if your symptoms actually are IBS. Complete our assessment and we’ll provide you with answers and a personalized program to help lessen your symptoms. 

Or, if your doctor told you that you have IBS, you can also complete our assessment and we’ll provide a customized program to help lessen your symptoms. 

If you want more information about IBS, Goodpath has it. Please go to our “Learn Center” for IBS information from our medical team.