Talking About Irritable Bowl Syndrome
“IBS” is an acronym that is becoming more commonly used, but you may be asking yourself: “What is IBS?” Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) doesn’t affect everyone, but it can have a HUGE impact on the lives of people who do have it. IBS is a chronic condition that makes your digestive tract act irregular through symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, or constipation or IBS can cause stomach pain.
How common is IBS?
- IBS affects 10 to 15 percent of adults in the U.S. However, only 5 to 7 percent of U.S. adults have received a diagnosis of IBS from their health care practitioner.
- The diagnosis is difficult because the exact cause of IBS is unknown. Symptoms can be due to a change in the way the brain, gut, and nervous system interact
- Other conditions such as stress, anxiety, or other stomach conditions can impact IBS and trigger disease
Who is more likely to develop IBS?
- IBS affects about twice as many women as men and occurs more in people 45 or younger.
What are the common symptoms?
- Pain and discomfort in your abdomen (the area between your chest and your hips)
- Changes in how often you have bowel movements
- Changes in how your stool appears
- Constipation, diarrhea, or both
IBS is a chronic disorder, meaning it lasts a long time, often years. However, your symptoms may come and go. You may have IBS if:
- You’ve had symptoms at least three times a month for the past 3 months.
- Your symptoms first started at least 6 months ago.
So if you're experiencing these symptoms, you now may be asking what can be done. The first thing that can help IBS symptoms is altering your diet habits. Below are some tips:
- Eating smaller meals more often or eating smaller portions can help to control your symptoms. Eating large meals can cause symptoms such as cramping or diarrhea.
- Foods that are low in fat and high in carbohydrates may help with your symptoms too! Examples of these foods include pasta, rice, whole-grain breads, cereals, fruits and vegetables
- Know which foods could make your IBS worse too.
- Examples of foods to avoid are: high fat foods, alcohol, caffeine, large amounts of artificial sweeteners, milk products, and any foods that cause you gas.
- Keep a list of foods that set off your IBS to help learn what foods to avoid in the future Track what food you eat during the day, what symptoms you have, and when those symptoms happen.
IBS affects over 30 million people in the U.S. - males and females, young and old. If you have chronic and recurrent abdominal pain and bowel problems and your daily schedule is often ruled by intestinal discomfort - get help. IBS is a complex condition but there are always ways to manage it. If you feel as though you have these symptoms, talk to your health care practitioner.
For more information, visit:
International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) www.IFFGD.org
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) www.niddk.nih.gov
Article Written By: Chelsea Guyette and JoAnna Douglas, PharmD Candidates 2017, CapitalCare Medical Group