April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month

April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month

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Highlights:
  • Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) like abdominal pain and abnormal bowel movements can range from mild to severe
  • Affected individuals fail to seek help as they usually feel uncomfortable talking about their bowel symptoms
  • Spread the word and get more people knowing about the condition the entire month of April to help IBS patients
"Despite being very common, many with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are reluctant to openly talk about their symptoms or seek medical care," said Ceciel T. Rooker, President of the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), a registered non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people with IBS and other chronic gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. "They may feel uncomfortable discussing their symptoms, even with their doctor, because of social taboos surrounding bowel symptoms."
April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is:
  • One of the most prevalent and burdensome chronic conditions
  • The second leading cause of work absenteeism (after the common cold)
  • The reason a person restricts his personal and professional activities an average of 20 percent of the year
Hence, IFFGD designated April as the IBS Awareness Month in 1997 to bring awareness to this often misunderstood condition. It is on the U.S. National Health Observances calendar during which time individuals, health professionals, teachers, community groups, and others can allocate time and resources on important health messages about IBS diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life issues.

Although IBS awareness month status is now recognized worldwide, there is a lot more deed to be done by common people like us to make more people aware of the condition.

How You Can Get Involved

Raise awareness about IBS
  • Send the IBS Awareness Month press release to the local newspaper or share the information as a link on social media
  • Send out flyers about IBS in your community and neighborhood
  • Become a part of IFFGD and engage in conversation on their facebook and twitter pages - use your voice to make a difference
How does raising awareness help?
  • Brings down the taboo associated with the disease, which restricts patients from obtaining a diagnosis and getting medical care
  • Brings about positive outcomes, like additional research, increased educational opportunities and improved patient care
  • Encourages open and honest conversation about IBS symptoms and helps those affected lead normal, active lives

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

IBS is a disorder of the intestines. The disorder is also termed irritable colon, mucous colitis, spastic colon or spastic colitis, and nervous stomach.

IBS mostly affects the large intestine or the colon. The muscles of the intestinal wall that help the food move through it, either contract too quickly or too fast in IBS Sometimes the contractions may cause the food to move too fast; at such times less water is reabsorbed into the colon walls and ends up in the stool causing diarrhea. On the other hand, the contractions may cause the food to move slowly such that more water is absorbed making the stool hard and leading to constipation. The faster the contraction, the more painful the cramps will be.

IBS has no cure. People resort to treatment mainly to relieve symptoms. Most people learn ways over time to cope with the condition, by changing their lifestyle to make them feel better.

A medical doctor can only diagnose the condition. The condition is usually diagnosed in an elimination procedure - the doctor narrows down on IBS only if he feels that the symptoms cannot be caused by another disease like lactose or gluten intolerance.

The exact cause of IBS is not known. Symptoms may result from some disturbance in the interaction of the gut, brain, and nervous system. Oversensitive nerves in the intestine, intestinal muscle disorders and inflammation of the intestinal wall, psychological stress, eating habits, and food intolerances have all been named triggers of IBS.

Symptoms of IBS

The main symptoms of IBS are recurring bouts of abdominal pain, along with an altered bowel habit (chronic or recurrent diarrhea, constipation or both, which can either appear simultaneously or in alternation). The pain usually goes away after a bowel movement and can worsen after eating a meal. Women typically experience constipation while men experience diarrhea but both genders can have both forms too.

Other signs of IBS may include bloating, flatulence or mucous discharge. The condition occurs in episodes with alternating symptom-free periods followed by flare-up periods of more severe symptoms.

Most people who have IBS have a mild form which they can cope with quite well without getting any treatment. But some people have symptoms that are so severe that it significantly affects their everyday lives and often impairs their physical, emotional, economic, educational and social well-being.

Facts on IBS

Around 10-15% of the world's population is estimated to have IBS. The prevalence of IBS in Europe and North America is estimated to be 10-15 percent (25 to 45 million). Data available from across other countries suggest that the prevalence is more or less similar despite substantial lifestyle differences and different diagnostic criteria.

There are differences in presenting features between affected individuals in eastern and western countries.

The age group of people affected by IBS ranges from 15 and 65 years; while symptoms may be present from childhood, the patient is usually in the 30-50-year-old age group when he does the first presentation to the doctor.

IBS affects children and adults alike, more women than men.

How to take care of IBS symptoms in your daily life

If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you are not alone.

A diet called low FODMAP is advised for IBS patients that must be followed only after consultation with a doctor. FODMAP is expanded to read low Fermentable, Oligosaccharides (like fructans, galactans), Di-saccarides (like glucose and fructose) and Polyols (like sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, xylitol, and isomalt).

In general, whole-wheat bread, brown rice, fruits without their skins, dry fruits (all except raisins), grilled, broiled, baked or steamed vegetables, meat with little or no oil, peppermint and fennel seeds and bananas are safe to consume.

IBS patients should try to avoid fatty and sugary foods, caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks, spicy foods, and processed food. Other lifestyle changes that will help are to exercise daily, drink plenty of fluids and try calming techniques like meditation and yoga.

References :
  1. IBS Awareness Month - (https://www.aboutibs.org/ibs-awareness-month.html)
  2. IFFGD-IBS Awareness Month - (https://www.aboutibs.org/images/pdfs/AwarenessReleases/IFFGD_IBSAwarenessMonth_2018.pdf)
  3. Global Guidelines - Irritable Bowel Syndrome - (http://www.worldgastroenterology.org/guidelines/global-guidelines/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs-english)
  4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome Overview - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072600/)
Source: Medindia

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