As people with IBS, or irritable bowel syndrome, know, diagnosing this disease poses an immense challenge. Until recently, IBS was a diagnosis of exclusion, which means it was only diagnosed when all other possible disorders were ruled out. However, a new blood test has been identified that may help IBS sufferers to get the fast diagnosis they need to identify and treat this disease.
What Causes IBS?
Recent studies suggest that IBS is triggered by gastroenteritis, commonly known as a stomach bug. A chemical known as cytolethal distending toxin B is released by the bacteria that cause the gastroenteritis. The body counter-attacks with a protein called vinculin, which then causes the nerve damage in bowels that lead to IBS. When vinculin is consistently overproduced in the gut, the immune system responds with antivinculin antibodies. These antibodies cause inflammation and damage to the digestive tract, which in turn produces the health problems associated with IBS.
Antivinculin Antibodies: A Biomarker for IBS?
Researchers believe that testing for antivinculin antibodies may be a fast and accurate way to diagnose IBS. A study was recently performed on 165 people with IBS, and all carried significantly higher levels of these antibodies than healthy people. When combined with colonoscopy, this can offer a definitive diagnosis of IBS. While the results are still preliminary, physicians may soon begin using this simple blood test rather than diagnosing IBS by ruling out other diseases.
Hope for People with IBS
The symptoms of IBS can be debilitating. While there are many ways to manage the disease, both with lifestyle changes and with medical therapies, the disease has to be identified before this can start. This blood test offers hope of a fast diagnosis so people can quickly move on to fighting IBS and getting well.
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Kling, Jim; Blood Test for Irritable Bowel Syndrome in the Works; Medscape.com; accessed June 9, 2015
Pimentel, Mark; Blood Test Could Help Gastrointestinal Patients; Cedars-Sinai; accessed June 9, 2015