If your digestive system isn’t working the way it’s supposed to but no physical causes can be found, your problem may be a functional bowel disorder (FBD).
Often thought of as an “invisible” illness because the digestive tract looks normal, functional bowel disorder is an umbrella term used to describe problems involving the function of your stomach (upper GI system) and bowels (lower GI system). Two of the most common are irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional dyspepsia.
Even though functional bowel disorders are quite common – affecting millions in the U.S. alone – people don’t always seek help because they either don’t know where to go, they’re embarrassed to talk it, or they just decide to live with the symptoms.
These symptoms can include:
Although FBD isn’t life-threatening, it can definitely interfere with your day-to-day functioning and the quality of life. Dr. Abousaif understands the importance of finding a physician with whom you can partner to manage your symptoms and the disorder, and will approach your individual case with compassion and expertise.
Unfortunately, there are no blood tests or imaging tests that can diagnose FBD. The diagnosis is symptom based and is typically diagnosed after you’ve gone to the doctor complaining of symptoms.
In most cases, symptom history is enough to make the diagnosis, but if you have any “red flag” symptoms, additional tests may be necessary in order to rule out other digestive disorders. These tests can include:
Once we know what is causing your problems, Dr. Abousaif can then tailor a treatment plan to effectively address your disorder.
Dr. Abousaif takes a three-pronged approach to the treatment of functional bowel disorders in order to give you optimum relief.
First and most important is helping you make the lifestyle changes necessary to manage the disorder. Stress often worsens FBD symptoms, so it’s critical to manage stress through relaxation techniques and other stress reduction activities.
Exercise and nutrition are also critical in managing your symptoms. It’s a known fact that certain foods can either make you feel better or worse. Dr. Abousaif will help you create a diet of foods that will help optimize your nutrition and minimize your symptoms. Likewise, an exercise program can not only improve your overall health, but help you manage your stress levels as well.
Some functional bowel disorders can be treated with medications that will help ease spasms, reduce acid, treat pain, and regulate the digestive tract. Dr. Abousaif can match you with the medication that is best for your particular disorder and individual needs.