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Irritable Bowel Syndrome Lawyer

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a grouping of symptoms relating to the gastro-intestinal tract. This condition may also be called irritable colon, spastic colon, nervous colon, colitis, mucous colitis, and spastic bowel syndrome. Looking for an Irritable Bowel Syndrome Lawyer for food poisoning-related IBS? If you contracted Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) from food poisoning, the lawyers at The Lange Law Firm, PLLC can help.

Oftentimes, there is no evidence of any underlying damage or reason for the systems. It is a long-term, sometimes life-long, disorder that affects the daily life of a person who has it. It is the most common gastrointestinal disorder in the United States, affecting over 30 million people nationwide.

What are Some of the Symptoms of IBS?

Symptoms of IBS may occur on a daily basis or may be triggered by specific foods or by stress. Sometimes, no specific trigger is identified as a cause for a symptom.

Some typical symptoms of IBS can include:

  • Constipation or straining
  • Diarrhea (long-term or temporary)
  • Alternating diarrhea and constipation
  • Abdominal cramping or pain
  • Urgency
  • Bloating
  • A sense of incomplete evacuation (tenesmus)

However, IBS may have some additional, more severe symptoms, including:

  • Weight loss
  • Unexplained vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness
  • Bloody stool
  • Headaches
  • Backaches
  • Reflux
  • Psychiatric symptoms: such as anxiety, major depression, and chronic fatigue

How Does Someone Get IBS?

Modern medicine does not have one answer to this question. IBS can have several different potential causes, and in some cases, can still be a mystery. Many cases of IBS are caused by a severe infection – such as food poisoning. Others can be caused by food allergies or diet related issues. There is also a theory that IBS is caused by the communication between the gastro-intestinal tract and the body’s central nervous system.

Could Food Poisoning Cause IBS?

Yes. It is common for someone who has just recovered from a bout of food poisoning to develop IBS. About 10% of people who’ve had food poisoning develop IBS. This is often seen after E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter infections.

The risk factors for developing post-infectious IBS, include:

  • The length and severity of the illness
  • The health of the infected person, including stress levels, gender, immune system responses, and age
  • The capability of the bacteria to produce a toxin (i.e. Shiga-toxin producing bacteria like E. coli O157:H7 or Shigella)

A recent study showed “using a mathematical model, researchers concluded that food poisoning — gastroenteritis — may account for the majority of irritable bowel syndrome cases.”

According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), between 6-17% of individuals who previously had normal bowel function may have developed post-infectious IBS. If you contracted IBS from food poisoning, our IBS lawyers can help.

Is There a Cure for IBS?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for IBS. But doctors are able to treat the symptoms.

Will Having IBS Make Me Have a Greater Risk for Cancer?

No. According to the Mayo Clinic, “IBS doesn’t cause changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer.”

How Does Someone Get Diagnosed with IBS?

There is no one particular laboratory or imaging test ordered by a physician to diagnose IBS.

Typically, a physician may diagnose a patient suffering from IBS by reviewing their medical history and by excluding conditions that produce IBS-like symptoms. For example, a doctor may try to “rule out” other potential disorders first, such as:

  • Parasites
  • Food allergies
  • Celiac disease
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Bacterial overgrowth

In some patients, a doctor may also order a colonoscopy, in an effort to rule out any other potential maladies.

When these and other disorders have been ruled out, and symptoms are in a pattern, a physician may use IBS as a diagnosis.

  • Abdomen pain and discomfort for at least 12 consecutive or non-consecutive weeks.
  • Relief with defecation.
  • Onset associated with change in frequency of bowel movements.
  • Onset associated with change in nature and consistency of stool.
  • At least two symptoms such as change in the frequency or consistency of stools, urgency for bowel evacuation but incomplete evacuation, mucus passage in stools, bloating and gaseous distension of the abdomen.

If there are symptoms of weight loss, fever, rectal or anal bleeding, nausea and continuous vomiting, severe pain and uncontrolled diarrhea in patients over 50 other diagnoses should be ruled out.

If that is the case, one of the following types of IBS is determined:

IBS-C: IBS with constipation

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Pain and bloating
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty moving your bowels – straining when going for a poop
  • Infrequent bowel movements
  • Hard or lumpy stools
  • Feeling like you want to go but can’t

IBS-D: IBS with diarrhea

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Often having loose stools
  • An urgent need to go
  • IBS-M with mixed symptoms of constipation and diarrhea

IBS-M: Mixed symptoms

  • Can include the symptoms of IBS-C and IBS-D and tend to alternate from one to the other. For this reason, IBS-M may also be referred to as IBS-A.

It is important to note that IBS tends to be under-diagnosed. Oftentimes, people with symptoms of IBS may not think they have the disorder and not seek medical attention. Only about 30% of people with symptoms of IBS will seek medical attention.

What are Treatments for IBS?

There is a wide array of treatments used to quell and manage the symptoms of IBS. Some of these treatments include:

Reduction of Stress

Reduction of stress is a good idea for most people recovering from any sort of illness, but physicians have found that it is also helpful in reducing the symptoms of IBS. Talking to a therapist or engaging in calming activities (such as painting, yoga, etc.) have been recommended to assist those in trying to reduce their stress levels.

Diet Alterations

For many IBS patients, their diet may be a reason for their symptoms. This is especially true for anyone with food allergies. Artificial sweeteners are not easily absorbed by the digestive tract, so eliminating them altogether could be helpful in reducing gut issues. By eliminating foods that trigger IBS symptoms, someone with the condition can reduce the likelihood of flare-ups.

Not only can regular exercise be good for the body, but it can also help regulate digestion and reduce stress levels.

Some physicians recommend the use of antihistamines to curb the symptoms of IBS. According to according to a 2016 Belgian study published in the journal Gastroenterology,those with IBS who took the antihistamine ebastine for 12 weeks reported reduced symptoms in comparison to those on the placebo.

Some doctors may also prescribe antibiotics to reduce the amounts of bad bacteria in the gut.

 Some people who have IBS have found that certain vitamins and supplements have had positive results in dealing with the condition, such as:

Hypnotherapy (therapy by hypnosis) can be an alternative medicine therapy. The American Journal of Gastroenterology found that hypnotherapy alleviated IBS symptoms, such as abdominal pain and bloating, in 40% of patients.”

Who is Most Likely to Develop IBS?

Although there is no commonly accepted reason that someone can develop IBS, statistics have shown that there are certain types of people who are more susceptible for developing IBS.

  • Higher stress levels and stressful life events were associated with people developing IBS.
  • Approximately 25% of cases of IBS were reportedly due to food allergies.
  • For people who have a relative with IBS, the chances of them also developing IBS is twice as likely as someone without a genetic link.
  • In a recent study, a mathematical model was used to predict “a greater incidence of the disease for populations at a higher risk of these kinds of infections, such as military personnel.” The study further comments that, among high risk groups (such as deployed military personnel), 9 percent of that population would develop IBS in a six-month time frame after a bout of food poisoning.
  • Apart from the study, statistics show that IBS is typically diagnosed in a person under 45 years of age.
  • Females are about two to three times more likely to be diagnosed with IBS than men. There are theories that IBA symptoms may also be tied to hormonal changes. According to Gina Sam, MD, director of the Mount Sinai Gastrointestinal Motility Center in NYC, reproductive hormones can influence gut hormones.

How Long Does It Take IBS to Go Away?

In most cases, IBS is a long-term condition. However, with treatment, a person with IBS can learn to cope with and manage the condition.

Do I Have a Case?

If you developed IBS after food poisoning, then you may have a case for compensation; particularly, if your IBS requires ongoing treatment and significantly limits your ability to work and perform daily activities. IBS is commonly overlooked as a basis for a personal injury claim since people don’t like speaking about their symptoms, even though they can be debilitating. Some victims cannot commit to a daily job schedule or spend large amounts of time in the bathroom while at work, often resulting in terminations and the inability to maintain employment. A simple task such as grocery shopping can seem impossible.

If you suffer from IBS and are facing limitations in your life as a result, contact an IBS lawyer. An experienced Irritable Bowel Syndrome attorney will evaluate the facts of your case and advise you on whether they believe you can hold the responsible party accountable.

How an IBS Lawyer Can Help

The process for proving an IBS claim caused by food poisoning is extremely challenging since it takes at least six months before a diagnosis. Identifying the source will require an in-depth investigation into the days and weeks before your symptoms began. Most attorneys will have teams of doctors, specialists, and other professionals who will analyze your IBS and establish:

  • A comprehensive medical and treatment history to substantiate the full extent of your condition;
  • How it happened;
  • The parties at fault; and
  • How seriously your life will be impacted.

A highly experienced IBS lawyer will have the resources to hire the necessary experts and build your case. Strengthening your case also requires gathering evidence, such as:

  • Attendance records from former employers that demonstrate frequent absences related to IBS.
  • Letters from old co-workers who witnessed frequent bathroom breaks and failures at work.
  • Records of treatment.
  • Medical evidence from treating physicians, including notes, lab or imaging results, opinion regarding your work restrictions, and whether you require rest periods throughout the day.
  • Lists of prescribed medications.
  • Pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns to prove lost income.

If you happened to have gone to the hospital for your food poisoning, your attorney will obtain your medical records that indicate if your blood or stool was tested for food borne pathogens. However, most hospitals will not do this unless you specifically make the request. No matter how difficult, if an IBS lawyer believes you have a case, they will help you prove liability under the state’s product liability laws and hold the negligent party accountable for your losses.

What Damages Can I Recover For My IBS Case?

A successful post-infectious IBS lawsuit can recover the following types of compensation:

Economic Damages

Compensation for actual losses, which are easier to calculate due to their clear dollar value. For example:

  • Medical Bills: acute care, hospitalizations, treatments, laboratory tests, prescription medications, ongoing care, future medical care.
  • Lost Wages: current and future lost income from missing work due to your symptoms of IBS.
  • Diminished Earning Capacity: if your IBS renders you unable to earn an income, or forces you into a different line of work.

Non-Economic Damages

Compensation for intangible losses, which are subjective losses and not easily calculated:

  • Pain and suffering: physical pain and mental suffering you’ve had to and are enduring.
  • Emotional distress: psychological impact of IBS. (e.g., depression, anxiety, loss of sleep, loss of appetite, fear, etc.)
  • Physical impairment: IBS can qualify as a disability if its symptoms significantly impact your life.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life: inability to enjoy life’s activities that you previously engaged in before IBS. (e.g., avoiding social situations because you must use the bathroom so often)

Punitive Damages

This type of compensation may be available when a defendant acted in an extremely reckless manner or with malicious intent. It is used as a way to punish the at-fault party.

What To Do After Suffering from IBS

The most important thing to do after suffering from IBS is to visit your primary doctor. He or she may refer you to a gastroenterologist, who is a specialist in digestive diseases and can help you identify triggers and reduce your symptoms. Keep a journal of foods and symptoms as a reminder to discuss them with your doctor.

Documenting all medical evidence, treatment plans, and problems associated with your condition is essential to your IBS claim. Make a record of:

  • The number of days you are unable to leave the house.
  • How many bowel movements you have per day.
  • How much time you have to spend in the bathroom on average.
  • If you have accidents, how often you have them and how long it takes to clean up.
  • If you have to take a change of clothes with you anytime you leave the house.

After seeking medical care, it is vital to contact an IBS lawyer. They will advise you on whether or not you have a valid claim and ensure you recover the fair amount of compensation you are entitled to. Best of all, many IBS lawyers offer free initial consultations so there is no risk to you in getting their advice.