A friend of mine has a family member who was recently diagnosed with IBS. Upon hearing this story, I felt slightly shocked, disappointed and outraged about the treatment this person received. Is it not common practice to talk about treatment and coping options before writing a prescription? Apparently not, and even worse, this was the first and only option offered to this patient. No referral to a dietitian, no suggestion to food journal, no reference to common trigger foods and no recommended literature. Just: Take. These. Drugs.
Is this really the first course of treatment for a digestive disorder that is closely linked to what, when and how we eat? What about a referral to the Nutrition Education Clinic's IBS program offered by two hospitals within the Capital District Health Authority? What about emphasizing the importance of stress management and the role it plays in our lives? What about telling the patient that they can regain some control, and indeed should take control, by determining trigger foods, by finding an outlet, by exercising and by getting enough sleep. Patients will still experience episodes and have times where they feel helpless, but the first option should not be medication. Can this really be considered a long-term solution if other avenues have not been explored? If so, what does this say about the Canadian health care system? Why don't we mask the symptoms without trying to find out what is exacerbating the problem?