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Diagnosing and Managing IBS
It's the most common gastrointestinal disorder, yet the condition is misunderstood and often misdiagnosed.

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Irritable bowel syndrome is the most common gastrointestinal disorder, affecting 35 million Americans. Yet "IBS is misunderstood by a lot of people," said Satish Rao, MD, chief of gastroenterology and hepatology and director of the Digestive Health Center at Georgia Regents University. "It's gotten better within the last decade, but it can be a category where we group a lot of patients whose symptoms we don't understand."

Jeff Roberts knows all too well how difficult IBS can be to diagnose and to live with. Roberts had stomach problems as a child, which caused him to miss a lot of school. His pediatrician and several gastroenterologists "all concurred that I just had a nervous stomach." At age 16, he was diagnosed as lactose intolerant. It wasn't until Roberts was in his 20s, after doctors ruled out everything from celiac disease to colon cancer, that IBS was diagnosed.

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