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I’m a married 31 year-old who has been diagnosed with fibromylagia for 12 years. I am on a quest to raise awareness and help others by sharing information and staying positive. Read more
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UNC Evening with the Experts

One of the highlights of my December was finding out about the University of North Carolina Center for Functional GI & Motility Disorders’ montly Evening with the Experts. The December chat was presented by Olafur S. Palsson, PsyD and was on the many non-gastrointestinal symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and their effects. At five minutes before 8pm EST the session went live there was a very informative 30 minute power point presentation to view that had a voice over by Dr. Palsson. 40 minutes later a chat room opened for all those who wanted to participate.

I found the entire event very exciting, as it gave me a chance to directly ask Dr. Palsson questions relating to the evening’s topic. It isn’t very often patients have easy access to specialists, let alone ones that are researchers. I was happy to have the extra 15 minutes of cushion time before the chat room started, as some of the parts I read/listened to multiple times to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. He outlined 26 non-gastrointestinal symptoms that had been reported more commonly in patients with IBS than in comparison groups. The seven most common of these (in order of prevalence) were: constant tiredness, muscle aches, back pain, sleeping difficulties, stiff muscles, headache and frequent urination. All of these symptoms were reported in a higher percentage than those without IBS that reported the same symptoms. These symptoms are also found all throughout the body and not limited to a particular system or function.

I asked Dr. Palsson one of the biggest questions that many of us with IBS have, which is why so many of us wake up in the middle of the night with abnormally horrible dreams only to realize we have having extreme IBS pain? He confirmed that he has previously had IBS patients complain of this and that his hypothesis is, “the same autonomic dysregulation that is messing with sleep patterns in IBS also disturb the bowel functioning of IBS patients at night.” I like this answer much better than the one m GI doc gave me! My GI doc had guessed that I was stressed, had a bad dream and that had caused my IBS pain. That just didn’t seem to fit my situation.

My friend and I were both diagnosed with IBS after having food poisoning in our 20s, so I asked Dr. Palsson if there was a typical time in life where IBS develops/appears. He said that early adulthood is the primary onset age and the chance of developing it declines significantly in midlife for women. The reason for this has been hypothesized that with the discontinuation of menstrual cycles may calm things down. I learned even more, but to avoid this post getting too long, I’ll have to safe some info for another post!

The next Evening with the Experts is tomorrow, Tuesday, January 10th at 8pm EST, presented by Dr. Stephan Weinland. This multimedia presentation is entitled, “The Role of the Psychologist.” To see the following three topics, visit their website. I hope you’ll join me there!

Do you have any questions about the role of a psychologist in IBS that you’d like me to ask for you?

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Expert advice!*

*Image Credit: from by RambergMediaImages

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