April is IBS Awareness Month

April was first designated as IBS Awareness Month in 1997, and 'Don't Suffer In Silence' is a common theme used in this awareness campaign. While everyone poops, most people are uncomfortable talking about their bowel functions. However, it's vital for your health to notice your bowel movements and be aware when something isn't right.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder of the large intestine in which a person experiences chronic, recurrent bowel problems and abdominal pain, more common in women than men. IBS is common. According to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), it's estimated that between 9-and 23% of the global population is affected by IBS; over 30 million people in the United States have this condition. Unfortunately, the cause of the ailment is still unknown.

Symptoms experienced by those diagnosed with IBS may include: abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, cramping, constipation, or a combination. IBS does not increase a patient's risk of colorectal cancer or alter bowel tissue.

A person with IBS can experience intestinal discomfort daily. However, the frequency and severity of IBS symptoms are unpredictable and vary. If IBS is not managed, this disorder can be disruptive to all aspects of a person's life.

While the cause of IBS is not known, IBS symptoms are brought on by a disruption to the interaction between the brain, nervous system, and gut. Stress can trigger IBS or make the symptoms worse.

To test for IBS, patients may undergo a series of procedures to rule out other ailments, including:

Blood Tests: Check for celiac disease, anemia, tissue damage, inflammation, or other abnormalities.

Stool Samples: Detect a parasite, blood in the feces, or bacterial infection that could mimic IBS symptoms.

Verbal Questionnaires: Detect psychological reasons for the digestive disruptions. Anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions could contribute to common IBS symptoms.

A Colonoscopy: Examines the rectum and large bowel via scope. A colonoscopy is often conducted when the patient has rapid weight loss, rectal bleeding, or other signs that could indicate more serious issues.

Because IBS is a long-term condition, those diagnosed with it must learn to manage it, usually by modifying their lifestyle. For example, patients may consume an altered diet, employ stress-reduction techniques, attend counseling, and take prescribed medications in more serious cases.

The professionals at Digestive Disease Care can help treat IBS and provide you with the most comprehensive approach to achieving relief.

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