April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month


hIrritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is actually more common than most people would assume – the chronic digestive condition affects as many as 23% of individuals worldwide, with many more people undiagnosed and unaware that their symptoms are indicative of IBS.

The inability of many to recognize they are suffering from IBS is likely due to the fact that there is no set way for a doctor to test for IBS. Instead, doctors typically rule out any other possible medical conditions first and then make an IBS diagnosis. This process can be frustrating for patients, as IBS symptoms are often both uncomfortable and inconvenient.

IBS Awareness Month (April) was created to educate the public about IBS and its symptoms in order to increase the number of proper diagnoses worldwide.

Treatment and control over IBS

Unfortunately, currently no cure exists for IBS. However, patients can learn to gain control over their symptoms through education and support, and most who are able to control symptoms do not develop long-term health issues associated with IBS. Although this may not sound as optimistic as someone new to IBS might hope to hear, control over your symptoms really is possible. Many patients experience successful symptom control after making nutritional changes to their diet, such as cutting out or introducing certain foods. Use of probiotics and medications has also been known to help. Even counseling and/or support for stress and anxiety issues has aided patients in overcoming their IBS symptoms, reducing the number of occasional flare-ups.

IBS facts to remember

Doctors are not yet sure why IBS occurs, but it’s important to remember that IBS symptoms and their frequency are not due to stress or diet alone. IBS also has not been shown to be associated with cancer or colitis. IBS is simply a long-term condition that requires active management for symptom control – it will not shorten your life or worsen as you age. Remember your IBS symptoms can change over time, so your routine for managing symptoms may need to change also, although you should consult your doctor if you are considering a change in medication.

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