The month of April is dedicated to raising awareness about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is one of the most common chronic illnesses in the United States today. Even though 40 million Americans suffer from IBS, very little is known about what causes it. Additionally, there is a stigma that is centered around IBS where few people feel comfortable enough to talk about bowel issues with their community and, more importantly, with their doctors.
This is one of the reasons the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) created IBS Awareness month, to educate people on the symptoms around IBS. They hope that by doing so, people will be able to come forward and talk about their experiences without shame or embarrassment, allowing them to find more relief from their symptoms.
What are the symptoms of IBS?
IBS symptoms can range from mild to severe, and they can appear and disappear over time or be chronic. Typically, people will have multiple symptoms, with one or two of them being more severe than the others. Below is a list of potential symptoms you may experience with IBS:
Pain and cramping
Diarrhea and bowel urgency
Alternating constipation and diarrhea
Changes in bowel movements
Gas and bloating
Food intolerances (IBS is often linked with gluten and lactose sensitivity)
Fatigue and difficulty sleeping
Anxiety and depression
IBS is characterized into three subtypes based off symptoms. These include IBS-Diarrhea (IBS-D), IBS-Constipation (IBS-C) and IBS-Mixed (IBS-M). IBS-D is the most common subtype, affecting nearly 16 million Americans and accounting for 40% of all IBS patients.
As other disorders can have symptoms that are similar to IBS, it is best to see a doctor if you are exhibiting any of the above symptoms to receive an accurate diagnosis.
How to Learn More About IBS
Awareness Month Awareness is critical for assisting people with IBS in receiving a proper diagnosis as well as continuing to fund research into what causes IBS and developing more solutions for symptom management. If you would like to learn more about IBS, go to www.aboutibs.org.