IBS mistaken for another digestive condition

Denise Dador Image
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Habba syndrome
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Some patients diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome may actually have a new, easily treated digestive condition.

About 45 million Americans struggle with irritable bowel syndrome and the discomfort it often brings. But some patients who have been unable to find relief may not actually have IBS.

Instead, it could be a newly diagnosed digestive condition, known as Habba syndrome, which may be easy to treat.

Deborah Wilson is one such patient. She hated eating in public.

"I was so afraid of the consequences of eating," Wilson said.

Wilson would eat and then run to the nearest restroom. As a result, she started to lose a dramatic amount of weight.

At one point, she hit 98 pounds.

Doctors told her it was irritable bowel syndrome, a common disorder that can cause cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. But IBS treatments didn't work for Wilson.

"I started getting different tests done, but nobody could figure out what was wrong," Wilson said.

Saad Habba, a gastroenterologist at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, ordered a nuclear test of Wilson's gallbladder and discovered the organ wasn't working.

Habba then prescribed Wilson the same medication taken by patients who have had their gallbladders surgically removed. Wilson takes a pill now before every meal to end sudden diarrhea.

"I'm encouraging all the patients to go back to their physicians and say this, 'Do more. There is something wrong here. Believe in what I'm telling you. It's not IBS,'" Habba said.

Wilson is just happy to have her life back.

"I knew I had to find out why so I could get my life back," Wilson said.