GERD Awareness Week: November 22-28, 2015

November 26, 2015

This week is the 17th annual GERD Awareness Week. Gastroesophageal reflux disease, like IBS, falls under the broad category of functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders, and many people with IBS also have GERD. According to IBS Guide Barbara Bradley Bolen, PhD, some studies show that over 70% of people with IBS report some symptoms of GERD and vice versa, but that among those with actual diagnoses, the overlap rate ranges from about one-quarter to one-third. GERD occurs when the lower esophageal sphincter, the valve connecting the esophagus to the stomach, fails to close completely and consistently when needed, and stomach acids and digested food inappropriately back up into the esophagus on a recurring basis. GERD is estimated to affect at least 20% of American adults, both men and women. GERD also commonly affects children of all ages, including infants. A wide variety of lifestyle factors, medical conditions and medication side effects are thought to be possible factors in causing or exacerbating GERD.

Symptoms vary from person to person and are not restricted to heartburn. Some people may not have noticeable symptoms at all until they experience complications. Some other possible symptoms of GERD are: belching, coughing, hoarseness, difficulty or pain in swallowing, excessive saliva, the sensation of food sticking in the esophagus,  chronically sore or irritated throat, laryngitis, inflammation of the gums, erosion of tooth enamel, bitter taste in the mouth, and bad breath. Chest pain may also be a symptom of GERD, but should receive immediate medical attention to rule out the possibility of cardiac problems or other serious conditions. Other possible symptoms of GERD occurring more than once a week or the need to use non-prescription heartburn/reflux medications for more than two weeks without resolution should be discussed with a doctor.

Relative to other functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders, GERD is generally considered by physicians and many affected people to be quite treatable by a variety of lifestyle and diet modifications, prescription medications and/or surgery. Many people have mild GERD and, with appropriate medical care, are at low risk of serious complications, but untreated GERD can lead to inflammation, erosion or narrowing of the esophagus or in a small percentage of cases, Barrett’s esophagus, cell changes that heighten the risk of esophageal cancer. According to a brief extract of a longer IFFGD publication by Carlo DiLorenzo, M.D. of Children’s Hospital of Columbus and Ohio State University, Dr. Mark Glassman, MD of Sound Shore Medical Center in New Rochelle, New York, and Paul Hyman, M.D. of Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana, some children with GERD and other conditions such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, abnormal lung development due to premature birth, muscle or nerve disorders affecting swallowing, or esophageal dysplasia, are at risk of GERD complicating those conditions.

Please see the following links for further information and resources and the original source for Drs. DiLorenzo, Glassman and Hyman’s work mentioned above.  IFFGD also offers downloadable GERD, IBS and functional GI disorder awareness brochures and posters for anyone to hang or distribute in his or her own community, that are accessible from the IFFGD links posted here. As today is American Thanksgiving, readers may find IFFGD’s holiday GERD-reducing tips to be particularly useful.

 GERD Awareness Week section from the IFFGD About GERD website

Pediatric GERD section from the IFFGD About Kids  GI website

Medline Plus page on GERD  (subunit of the U.S. National Institutes of Health)

In addition to encouraging accurate awareness of irritable bowel syndrome, IBS Impact encourages awareness of related conditions that are known to often overlap with IBS, as improvement in symptom management, treatment options, public awareness and social resources may have overlapping positive effects that improve quality of life for some people with IBS. With the high prevalence of GERD in the general public, many people who are not otherwise aware of or who do not take particular interest in functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders may actually have GERD or be close to someone who does. This is another opportunity to educate them about GERD and about FGIMDs in general as issues that do indeed involve them.

Veterans with IBS and Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders 2015

November 11, 2015

Today, November 11, is Veterans Day in the U.S., and a good time to highlight veterans’ issues. U.S. veterans  and current military service members who have been deployed in the Persian Gulf/Southwest Asia region at any time since 1990 have been shown by multiple studies to be at even higher risk of IBS and other functional GI disorders than the general population. Conservative estimates put the incidence of functional GI disorders in the general population as 25%, most commonly irritable bowel syndrome. For veterans and military service members of the Persian Gulf era, the estimate may reach as high as 40%. This appears to be in part because of the high incidence of known functional GI risk factors during active duty, such as severe stress or trauma and/or food or water contamination that results in post-infectious IBS  (IBS-PI) or other post-infectious functional GI and motility disorders.

Here is IBS Impact’s August 12, 2011 post on the recognition four years ago by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs of irritable bowel syndrome and functional gastrointestinal disorders as presumptive service connected disabilities for Gulf War veterans.

IFFGD and its grassroots arm, the Digestive Health Alliance, have done considerable work in the past few years in advocating for federal funding and other legislative needs specific to veterans, conducting outreach to service members and veterans and encouraging those affected by functional GI and motility disorders to participate in veteran-specific self-advocacy efforts. Since fiscal year 2012, functional GI disorders have been included in the Department of Defense Gulf War Illness Research Program, which is part of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. However, advocacy from the veteran community and supporters must occur on an ongoing basis for funding to be continued each fiscal year. Interest in veteran issues has been one reason for Congressional support of the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2015, HR 2311, currently in the House of Representatives, aimed toward improving the lives of affected veterans and civilians alike, and must continue to build.

As this blog reported on January 20, 2014, the depth of need for further awareness, services, support, and research in the veteran community is not necessarily well known even within the Department of Defense or other military entities, the media or the general public. The post linked in the second paragraph of this post about the recognition of IBS and other functional GI disorders as presumptive service-connected disabilities, more than  four years after original publication, has continued to receive consistent hits from readers nearly every day. By an extremely wide margin, it has been the #1 most read individual post, of over 200 posts covering over five calendar years since the inception of this blog. It has also been the #1 most read post for each individual year. Clearly, a very strong need exists for information and resources on this topic. It is hoped that given the relatively higher impact of functional GI disorders among veterans and service members, and their relatively higher profile as a constituent group, any advances on behalf of the affected veterans and service members will eventually carry over to people with functional GI disorders in general.

IBS Impact encourages veterans, service members and families in the IBS and functional GI community, as well as those who support them,  to familiarize themselves with the issues and resources, and to consider participating in self-advocacy activities. We look forward to feedback from readers as to how IBS Impact may be able to support such efforts further.

“The Gut Solution” Professionals Give Radio Interview About Children and Teens with IBS.

October 30, 2015

Last year, on June 27, 2014, IBS Impact reviewed on this blog The Gut Solution for Parents with Children Who Have Recurrent Abdominal Pain and Irritable Bowel Syndrome by Michael Lawson, M.D. and Jessica Del Pozo, PhD, (Lemke Health Partners:2013). This book is, to our knowledge, one of very few published specifically for families and a general audience on assisting children and adolescents with irritable bowel syndrome. Recurrent abdominal pain (RAP), also known as functional abdominal pain (FAP) is a specific medical diagnosis that involves chronic abdominal pain similar to that in IBS but does not include disturbances in bowel movements and is treated similarly to IBS pain.

Dr. Lawson is a board-certified gastroenterologist educated in both Australia and the United States who is currently practicing at Kaiser Permanente of Northern California, is a Clinical Professor at the University of California at Davis and has volunteered in Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Cambodia as part of his interest in multicultural medicine. Dr. Del Pozo is a licensed clinical psychologist, also at Kaiser Permanente of Northern California, who focuses on assisting those with chronic illnesses, including IBS and other chronic pain conditions. For fourteen years, she and Dr. Lawson have collaborated as part of a multidisciplinary team treating school-aged children and teens with IBS or RAP/FAP. They use the SEEDS Program, which was developed by Dr. Lawson. SEEDS stands for Stress management, Education and communication, Exercise, Diet and Sleep, which the authors claim has been successful in reducing IBS or RAP/FAP symptoms long-term for the vast majority of several hundred youth who have participated since the program’s inception. This protocol has been presented at Digestive Disease Week, a large, well known annual international conference for professionals in the field of gastroenterology.

Earlier this week, Drs. Lawson and DelPozo were interviewed on Blog Talk Radio/Health Media Now. The interview runs a bit more than 46 minutes and covers a basic explanation of the brain-gut connection and the role of stress and food, discussion of some (though not all) treatment options, ways parents and other family members can support the child at home and school, and how exercise and/or proper sleep can help in the possible reduction of symptoms. Although the focus of Drs. Lawson and DelPozo’s current work is on youth, both are also experienced with adults with IBS and many of the subtopics listed. above are also of potential interest and help to adults with IBS as well. The audio archive of the interview can be accessed here:

“The Gut Solution” Health Media Now interview, October 28, 2015

Reputable research has estimated that approximately 6% of middle school students and 14% of teens are diagnosed with IBS. While among adults, approximately twice as many women are diagnosed compared to men, among children, boys and girls are affected in about equal numbers. IBS Impact believes that many parents or guardians will find Drs. Lawson and Del Pozo’s advice useful to them to some extent, though not all aspects of the SEEDS protocol or the parenting advice will necessarily apply equally to all children or all family situations. IBS Impact encourages parents to use the portions that appear to be helpful to them and their child in conjunction with their child’s own health care providers. We also encourage families to continue learning from  other reputable sources. IBS Impact’s main website has a specific page dedicated to children with IBS and another page for family and friends. In addition, most resources on the other pages of the main site, this blog and social media are applicable to both children and adults with IBS,

Although IBS Impact received an early PDF version of The Gut Solution prior to the past review, we receive no funding for the review, this followup post, or for any sales of the book. As with all of the information on this blog, our main website and social media, this post is provided in the interest of scientifically accurate public awareness and assisting blog readers dealing with IBS to make informed choices for themselves or their families.

New Rome IV Diagnostic Criteria for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Will Include Individualized Clinical Profiles

October 11, 2015

As this blog reported in the February 23, 2015 post, in December 2014, functional gastrointestinal disorder experts from many countries, including several who are sometimes mentioned on this blog, met in Rome, Italy to complete the latest revision to the Rome criteria. The Rome criteria are the international standard used to diagnose functional gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Some version of the Rome criteria has been in existence for nearly 25 years. Rome III, the current version, came into use in 2006. Rome IV is now in the usual process of preparation for expected publication in a gastroenterology journal by spring 2016, a decade after Rome III.

Full specific details of the improvements in Rome IV are not available yet. However, according to the Rome Foundation Rome IV Frequently Asked Questions page,  in part, “We also expect to show with Rome IV that we can finally discard the functional-organic dichotomy that tends to stigmatize these disorders. Functional GI disorders are now understood as having abnormalities in mucosal immune dysfunction and the microbiota.” (para. 2)

Also the September 2015 edition of Family Practice News, a digital publication for family practice physicians, published an article entitled “Symptom-based diagnostic criteria: A work in progress in IBS,”  which includes a significant amount of commentary from Douglas Drossman, MD, MACG. Dr. Drossman is founder and president of the Rome Foundation, founder and president of the Drossman Center for the Education and Practice of Biopsychosocial Care, co-founder and retired co-director of the University of North Carolina Center for Functional GI Disorders, along with many other pivotal roles in the development of the field over his 40+ year career.

In this interview, he introduces the newly added Multidimensional Clinical Profile (MDCP), which is incorporates 5 categories aimed at capturing individual aspects of a given patient’s situation that previous versions of the Rome criteria have not. As Dr. Drossman explainsm  Category A encompasses diagnosis, using symptom-based Rome criteria as well as any physiological criteria. Category B involves “clinical modifiers,” such as IBS subtype, any post-infective history, FODMAP sensitivity and others. Category C is the patient’s report of the degree of symptom interference with his or her life. Category D are psychosocial modifiers or comorbid conditions such as a mental health diagnosis, abuse history, if any, (one factor that research has shown is one risk factor for future development of IBS), or other medical conditions or situations that may affect how IBS symptoms present. Category E are physiological factors, such as motility, or biomarkers for IBS to be validated in the future, that may affect a specific person’s IBS. Dr. Drossman expresses the hope that the new MDCP will assist physicians in providing a more precise diagnosis and targeted treatment depending on the particular patient’s individual needs.

A  16 page MDCP Primer  in PDF format containing a fuller explanation of the MDCP and sample case studies of its future use is downloadable from the Rome Foundation website. It has been developed by Dr Drossman and 9 other members of the Rome Foundation who are all leading international authorities on various aspects of functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders like IBS. They are from 7 countries: the United States, Spain, Australia, Mexico, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Belgium. The primer is written for medical professionals, however, may be of interest to people with IBS or families who already have some understanding of medical terminology and the science of IBS.

The Family Practice News article linked above in the third paragraph of this blog post, also notes that the Rome Foundation will also be instituting an online, interactive platform to guide medical professionals through the diagnosis and decision making process and allow them to consult with functional gastrointestinal disorder experts around the world.

All of this news appears promising  and a reason to look forward to the unveiling of Rome IV in the near future. IBS Impact thanks all of the experts involved in Rome IV, who are constantly working to improve diagnosis, treatment, research and functional GI education for those of us who live with these conditions and the professionals who may provide care to us. With better tools and greater awareness, many more of us will experience improved quality of life.

IBS Has a New Website! September 2015

September 29, 2015

IBS Impact has recently completed a major and overdue overhaul to its main website. Technical and other issues delayed the launch beyond the time expected, but it is live now and we thank IBS Impact’s long-term followers for their patience. The site has been moved to a new web host, webmaster and design template. Information and links on most pages have been updated and reorganized considerably to remove defunct or redundant material and streamline information. It is hoped that the new site will resolve technical issues that prevented updates to the old site for some time, will better allow the possibility of future expansions, and provide greater online accessibility for those with certain disabilities other than or in addition to IBS.

There have also been new resources added on the home page,  IBS page, advocacy page, research pageIBS studies page, resources pageIBS and children page, family and friends page and links page.  For efficient use of space, the events page from the previous site, which was under-utilized, has been removed for now, but a “latest news” column of short news updates has been added to the left sidebar of the home page. Readers interested in the most recent news, events, clinical trial and advocacy opportunities, and articles between main site updates, may follow this blog or our Facebook or Twitter feeds (links found on the lower right sidebar of this blog). In this update, particular attention has been given to increasing resources for international visitors to the site, with the current site reflecting six countries that are consistently among the top sources of hits to our sites, for children and teens with IBS and their families, and for those with medical conditions that commonly overlap with IBS.  Regardless of one’s interest in IBS, whether personal or professional, most users should find useful and interesting material and links.

Because of the redesign and transfer of the site, some links embedded in older posts on this blog or search engine results relating to IBS may result in error messages, but you should still reach the site itself. If so, please use the navigation links at the top of the site to reach the desired subpage.  No information that is still currently useful has been removed from the site, although in some cases, the location has changed. For example, much of the information previously found on the advocacy page has been moved to the resources page, and some of the previous contents of the resources page has been moved to the IBS page.

Please feel free to check out the new site here. Our goals with the website, blog and social media are to provide a varied range of current, scientifically accurate, reputable information and resources to people with IBS and their families and friends, and to encourage informed choices, proactive self-advocacy and public awareness of IBS, and the unmet medical or social needs many of us face as a result of IBS.

IBS Impact, as an entity, is not directly affiliated with any other organization, site or research sponsor and receives no funding for the information we post on the main website, this blog or our Twitter and Facebook pages. We do welcome constructive collaboration and value the many individuals, websites, organizations and clinical and research entities who continue to support, encourage and amplify our efforts in various ways to benefit the cause of IBS awareness and advocacy worldwide.

Special thanks to Shawn Case, IBS Impact’s volunteer founding webmaster, web designer and advocate in the IBS community for many years, who continues to act as a co-administrator and advisor for IBS Impact, and through his former business, donated hosting and maintenance for the IBS Impact site since its inception. Thanks also to Johnny Steverson, the CEO of WebTekPromotions, who completed the work on the new site at a substantially discounted rate and will also be donating hosting and maintenance going forward. Their work is essential to IBS Impact and the cause.

Comments, suggestions, corrections of outdated links, article submissions, and clinical trials or surveys by researchers affiliated with academic, medical, or pharmaceutical entities or reputable organizations representing IBS or commonly overlapping conditions in any country are all welcome and will be thoughtfully considered.  A new contact form can be found on the home page of the main site, or comments can be left on this blog.  Thank you to all of our readers and social media followers for your interest and participation.

Representative Moore of Wisconsin Co-Sponsors HR 2311 for Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders

September 18, 2015

According to IFFGD/the Digestive Health Alliance and the official Congressional legislative database, Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-4) has recently signed on as a co-sponsor to the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2015.

Representative Moore is serving her sixth term in the House of Representatives. Her district, the 4th Congressional District of Wisconsin includes Milwaukee and much of the surrounding area. According to her official House website, Representative Moore  is currently a member of the House Committee on Budget, and also has a record of supporting concerns related to health, veterans and women. Approximately two-thirds of adults with IBS are female. Representative Moore was also a co-sponsor of the previous version of this legislation, HR 2239, in the 112th Congress, which was then known as HR 842 in the 113th Congress.

If you are a constituent of Representative Moore, please take a few minutes to write or call her with your thanks for her long, consistent support of the functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders community.

In officially supporting HR 2311, Representative Moore joins Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI-5) , who is the initial sponsor, and was also the initial sponsor of two previous versions beginning in 2011, and the first co-sponsor, Representative Andre Carson (D-IN-7), who was a previous co-sponsor in 2013-2014 and Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19, a new co-sponsor this Congress. If you are a constituent of any of these Representatives, please thank them as well.

According to the information on, it appears that the bill is currently under consideration in the Subcommittee on Health. Click on the link above if you would like to see a list of its members.

U. S. citizens, if your Member of Congress is not yet a co-sponsor of HR 2311, please see the previous post from May 18, 2015 for links to the bill and more details on how to do so.  Often, it takes multiple attempts to elicit any interest from legislators, so if you do not receive a reply, do not hesitate to try again or to switch contact methods until you attract attention. Keep in mind that your Representative may be different from before because of the 2014 elections, district boundaries that may have been re-drawn, or if you have moved.

Your personal experiences as a person with IBS and/or other functional GI/motility disorders, or as a concerned family member, friend or colleague, are most effective in communicating to legislators and their staff that there are real human beings behind the statistics. However, even general expressions of support are helpful.

HR 2311 is bipartisan legislation (supported by members of both parties) and according to IFFGD discussions with IBS Impact,  is “revenue-neutral,” meaning that there will be no additional taxes or spending added to the current federal deficit if it is enacted. Discretionary funds are available at the National Institutes of Health to be allocated if Congress directs NIH, through this Act, that functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders are a priority. Congress will only do so if we, as a community, are able to show them the importance of the research, education and FDA coordination provided for in HR 2311.

NIH grants funding to researchers throughout the world, not just in the U.S., so in the long run, enactment of this Act may also benefit readers with IBS in other countries. Medical research also sometimes involves multinational teams of scientists, and in any case, study results are usually published globally, adding to the cumulative knowledge worldwide.

It is IBS Impact’s understanding that HR 2311 will not require a debate or vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, and will pass as soon as it reaches 218 sponsor/cosponsors, or a simple majority of the House. In order for this milestone to be accomplished during the current Congress, the 114th,  the necessary number of sponsor/cosponsors must be reached by December 2016. Every two years, the Congressional membership will be different as a result of elections. Thus, if HR 2311 has not passed by that time,  a similar bill will have to be reintroduced and the FGIMD community will have to start the process of gathering co-sponsors anew. This is what occurred with HR 2239 in 2012 and HR 842 in 2014. While it is quite common for legislation of various sorts to take several Congresses to pass, our continuing advocacy now can increase awareness, build momentum and perhaps accelerate passage. It is in our hands.

Check back on this blog or join IBS Impact’s Facebook page or Twitter feed for further updates on HR 2311 as they occur. Links to the social media sites can be found on the right sidebar of the blog.

Clinical Trial: DEFINE Study to Develop a Test for IBS at the University of North Carolina, August 2015

August 25, 2015

The University of North Carolina Center for Functional GI and Motility Disorders in Chapel Hill, one of the world’s major centers for diagnosis, treatment and research of irritable bowel syndrome is seeking adult volunteers for a study formally titled, “The development and validation of a blood test to identify IBS: DEFINE (Diagnostic Evaluation of IBS and Functional GI Networks.” The primary investigator is Yehuda Ringel, MD of UNC, and the IRB #is 13-2900.

Potential participants may be eligible for this study if they are at least 18 years old, have experienced any of the following gastrointestinal symptoms for at least 3-6 months without a definitive diagnosis or definitive testing: abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea.

Volunteers completing the study will receive up to $214 for their time and travel. Interested individuals should contact Charles Mclendon at 919-843-1003 or

The above information has been summarized from the Summer 2015 issue of Digest, the UNC Center quarterly newsletter Any questions or concerns should be directed to the UNC contact person above.

Previous posts on open clinical trials for IBS can be found by clicking the clinical trials category in the blog archives on the upper right sidebar of this blog. We also have a page for IBS studies on the main IBS Impact site. The research and links pages and the July 26, 2011 post provide additional general resources.

We welcome researchers affiliated with academic, medical or pharmaceutical entities, or reputable organizations representing IBS or related or commonly overlapping conditions, to contact us directly with additional studies they wish to be considered for posting. Contact links for the founder/listowner and the webmaster can be found on the home page of the main IBS Impact website.

IBS Impact makes these study announcements available for general information, and encourages its members and site visitors to make their own individual, informed choices about their potential participation in any study.  IBS Impact, as an entity, is not directly affiliated with any research sponsor and receives no funding from any source for studies or links we feature on this blog, the main site or social media.


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