Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common cause of abdominal pain and gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms. It is a chronic condition, which means that if you have IBS, it is important for you to understand the condition and what you can do to manage it.
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome? What symptoms might I have?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common problem that affects about 1 in 10 people in the United States and around the world. Symptoms may include one or more of the following: abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. IBS is considered a ‘functional’ bowel problem. That means that if you look at the bowel, it looks normal. But the nerves and muscles that control the bowel do not work normally, and that is what causes the symptoms. IBS symptoms tend to get worse and better over time.
What causes IBS symptoms?
No particular food causes IBS, but people may find that some foods do seem to affect how bad their symptoms are. Because IBS is complicated, a food that seems to cause symptoms today may not cause symptoms tomorrow. Stress also does not cause IBS, but stress may affect symptoms. Keeping a symptom diary is recommended for people with IBS. This can help people keep track of what triggers symptoms to get better or worse.
Where can I find more information and help managing my IBS symptoms?
The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) is a group working to provide education and support for people living with IBS and other similar GI problems. Founded in 1991 by Nancy Norton and William Norton, IFFGD has been working with patients (both adults and children), families, physicians, practitioners, investigators, employers, regulators, and others to broaden understanding about gastrointestinal disorders and support or encourage research. They have developed a mobile app called IBS Info that provides trustworthy information about IBS at your fingertips. Click here for more information.
If you think you might have IBS, talk to your healthcare provider, who can make sure the diagnosis is correct. If you know you have IBS, learn what you can about the condition and about your own triggers, so you can be an active and engaged partner in your care.