Healthcare Tips

Think you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome? A lot of people do.

April 25, 2022

If you’ve been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you’re more than aware of the abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, nausea, and constipation that go along with it. If you’re having some combination of those symptoms intermittently, you may have IBS without realizing it.

If you have reason to wonder, there’s no time like the present to get into your doctor for a diagnosis. April is IBS Awareness Month, when the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders works to spread the word about IBS, encourage people to seek treatment, and offer advice for anyone living with IBS.

IBS is extremely common

Gastroenterologists diagnose IBS more than any other disease. It affects 10-15% of Americans, but only a shockingly low 5-7% have been diagnosed, according to the American College of Gastroenterology. If you’re a woman, you’re twice as likely to have IBS. The reasons for that are unclear, and it doesn’t seem to be linked to hormones.

IBS doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have dairy or gluten or anything else

While it’s true that some people with IBS also have food intolerances, there is no direct link to any particular food. Because no one food is bad for all people with IBS, each person needs to experiment with foods to find out what worsens or improves the disorder. It’s a good idea to keep a notebook wherein you note each day what you ate and how you felt. Fair warning, though: For some IBS sufferers, symptoms come and go without any link to changes in diet.

What IBS is and isn’t

Put simply, IBS is a chronic disorder that causes abdominal pain or discomfort and recurrent diarrhea or constipation (or both). American College of Gastroenterology notes that IBS is not life-threatening, can be worsened by stress or anxiety, and is related to changes within nerves and muscles in the bowel. 

A lot of bad information circles this disorder, so it’s also worth noting that IBS is not: 

Feeling better may start with lifestyle

Although no one can prescribe a surefire regimen for combating symptoms, lifestyle changes seem to bring good results for most patients. It all comes down to trial and error to find what works for you. Some changes to try include:

If you have questions about irritable bowel syndrome or any other health-related issue, we’re ready to help. Just contact us at 317-462-5544 and find your care team.