Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness

Know the Signs–You are not alone.

April is IBS Awareness Month

If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you are not alone? IBS is common with worldwide prevalence estimated at 9% to 23%. Yet many people remain undiagnosed and unaware that their symptoms indicate a medically recognized disorder.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a functional bowel disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract characterized by recurrent abdominal pain and discomfort accompanied by alterations in bowel function, diarrhea, constipation or a combination of both, typically over months or years. The cause of IBS is unknown. A diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome has been reported by approximately 15% of adults in the United States, and symptoms of IBS are responsible for over 3.5 million yearly visits to physicians.

Research suggests that Irritable Bowel Syndrome is one of the most common functional GI disorders and is one of the most common reasons for consultation with a primary care physician or gastroenterologist. Despite IBS showing to have a significant negative impact on health-related quality of life, only 30% of people with IBS symptoms seek medical attention. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is found predominantly in women in a 2:1 ratio versus men. There are several subtypes of IBS.

IBS-D: Diarrhea predominant
IBS-C: Constipation predominant
IBS-A: Alternating, or mixed, between constipation and diarrhea
IBS-PI: Post Infectious IBS

IBS sufferers may experience multiple symptoms of diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, abdominal distention, excessive flatulence, bloating, a continual urge to defecate, the urgency to get to a toilet, incontinence, a sensation of incomplete evacuation, straining with a bowel movement, hard/lumpy stools, or even an inability to have a bowel movement at all. A subset of Irritable Bowel Syndrome sufferers may have co-morbidities with other digestive health disorders namely; GERD / Heartburn, Dyspepsia, Chronic Constipation, Chronic Abdominal Pain, Fibromyalgia, Pelvic pain or perhaps Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, known collectively as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). For instance, 29% of GERD patients have Chronic Constipation. Diagnosis can shift from one motility disorder to another over time; however, co-morbidity in IBS may be due to a general amplification of symptom reporting and physician consultation rather than a direct association.
A research study illustrated that patient education in diet, exercise, and stress management showed significant improvement in pain and symptoms at 1 and 6 months of treatment. An educational approach and appropriate use of medications should be components of a physician-based IBS treatment plan.

Points to Remember

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional disorder, meaning that the symptoms are caused by changes in how the gastrointestinal (GI) tract works.
IBS is not a disease. Symptoms can come back repeatedly without signs of damage to the GI tract.
The symptoms of IBS include pain or discomfort in your abdomen and changes in your bowel habits.
While IBS can be painful, it doesn’t lead to other health problems or damages the GI tract.
Health care providers are not sure what causes IBS. Researchers are studying the following possible causes of IBS: brain-gut signal problems, colon muscle problems, sensitive nerves, mental health issues, infections, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
Your health care provider may be able to diagnose IBS based on your symptoms, without using medical tests.
IBS is treated by relieving symptoms through changes in eating, diet, and nutrition; medicine; probiotics; and psychological therapy.
Stress doesn’t cause IBS, but it can make your symptoms worse.

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