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What is IB-Stim and How Can it Help Children with IBS?

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What is irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an unpredictable condition that occurs in the colon or large intestine. While the exact cause of IBS is unknown, the condition affects between 25 million and 45 million people in the United States.

Affecting most people under the age of 50, symptoms of IBS can range from mild to severe. IBS affects everyone differently, interrupting daily life with common symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, diarrhea and constipation.

Treatment options that don't involve medicine often range from lifestyle changes, such as diet, to cognitive behavioral therapy. While there are medicines available for adults with IBS, most medications used for IBS are not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in kids. There is, however, an FDA-approved treatment option for IBS called IB-Stim, designed to help manage the abdominal pain IBS causes.

What is IB-Stim?

IB-Stim is a nonsurgical device and treatment option prescribed by a doctor for patients ages 11 to 18. The device is placed behind the ear and sends gentle electrical impulses to the area of the brain that is associated with processing and reducing abdominal pain caused by IBS.

Like traditional treatment options, IB-Stim may not work for everyone, as each person's condition is unique. Those able to use IB-Stim successfully may begin to see results as early as the first week of use. The device is designed to be used for 120 hours (or five days at a time) over three consecutive weeks. IB-Stim is usually worn for the length of recommended time unless directed otherwise by a provider.

Can life resume as normal while using IB-Stim?

Yes, life can resume as normal when using an IB-Stim, but there are a few things to avoid. Patients can wash their hair while wearing the device if it's covered by a washcloth. Even though IB-Stim is water resistant, patients should not swim or get into a hot tub while wearing the device, because it isn’t fully waterproof. If the device is soaked in water, it will simply stop working or electrical sensations can increase. But it isn't dangerous. If your device gets wet, it's best to contact your doctor.

Are there side effects from IB-Stim?

Serious side effects have not been reported while using IB-Stim. Patients may experience pain at the site of implantation or a small rash, but both should resolve over time. The likelihood of experiencing these side effects is rare, with a less than 1% chance. Patients with hemophilia (a blood disorder that affects clotting), cardiac pacemakers and psoriasis vulgaris should not use IB-Stim.

Patients who have used IB-Stim said the device helped reduce pain, improve their lifestyle and ease the anxiety of navigating IBS in social situations.

If your child is experiencing IBS symptoms or diagnosed with IBS, contact your healthcare provider for a referral to Pediatric Gastroenterology to discuss diagnosis and treatment options.

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