According to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, it’s estimated that 10-15% of the world’s population suffers from irritable bowel syndrome. Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a chronic disorder that affects the large intestine. Symptoms of IBS include cramps, abdominal pain, gas, bloating, and diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of both.
Most people with IBS never experience severe signs and symptoms. Some people can control their symptoms by managing diet, lifestyle, and stress, or with over-the-counter remedies. While it’s a common disorder, we’ll bet there are still a few things you don’t know about IBS.
Different Varieties of IBS have Different Struggles
IBS symptoms, as mentioned above, can present in constipation, diarrhea, or both. And the pain and struggles people with IBS experience are different based on the type they suffer from. For those who experience both constipation and diarrhea, the changes between the two can be especially painful and frustrating.
Relief is Short-Lived
Unfortunately for sufferers of IBS, there are usually only short stints of relief, sometimes lasting only a few days before the irritating symptoms reappear. Most people with IBS have come to know and expect the timing, duration, and severity of their symptoms, which makes managing them a bit easier.
Many People with IBS Avoid the Doctor
Despite the consistent and agonizing symptoms of IBS, doctors estimate that most people with it don’t seek a diagnosis or treatment from an IBS specialist for more than a year. Your doctor may be able to prescribe medications or lifestyle changes you haven’t tried yet, so it’s important to seek the advice of a trained professional rather than opting to go it alone.
Diet Change is Important
Your doctor may suggest dietary changes to alleviate some of the symptoms of your IBS, including a low-FODMAP diet, which eliminates many carbs and sugars. You can also opt to have a food allergy test completed to identify any triggers or foods you should be avoiding.
Exercise and Stress Management Play a Role
There is a lot of research available that links stress and issues with your gut health. Stress management and behavioral therapy can be beneficial in quelling your symptoms of IBS. Exercise can also assist in improving the severity and frequency of your symptoms.
There Aren’t a Lot of Answers
One of the most frustrating things about IBS is the fact that there aren’t a lot of definitive answers about the disorder. However, the good news is many people who suffer from IBS find relief from their symptoms after finally taking the time to visit a doctor.
If you suffer from IBS or suspect you may, contact the colorectal specialists at the Colorectal Clinic of Tampa Bay for a treatment plan that fits your life today.