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Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month – Let Us Speak Out
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Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month – Let Us Speak Out

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Highlights:
  • April is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) awareness month that aims to raise awareness about this condition, remove associated stigma by urging persons with IBS to speak out and to help them cope with IBS
  • IBS is a condition characterized by chronic, recurrent abdominal discomfort and bowel problems. These include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, or a combination of these symptoms in varying degrees
  • If not recognized and treated appropriately, it can seriously affect a person’s physical and mental well being, not to mention disrupting their relationships and limiting their potential and productivity

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) awareness month observed in the month of April aims to raise awareness about this condition, remove associated stigma by urging persons with IBS to speak out and to help them cope with IBS.

History of IBS Awareness

IBS Awareness Month is sponsored by the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorder (IFFGD), which is a not for profit organization committed to helping persons with Irritable bowel syndrome.

The month of April was decided to be observed as IBS Awareness Month in 1997. An oft-repeated theme used in this awareness campaign is 'Don't Suffer In Silence'.

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month – Let Us Speak Out

The designated color of the IBS awareness ribbon is periwinkle, and is supposed to be worn on the left lapel.

Why is Raising IBS Awareness Important?

  • Makes public aware of symptoms and encourages them to seek medical advice
  • Reduces the stigma associated with the condition so that patients feel comfortable talking about their symptoms
  • Helps increase research on the topic aimed at better treatment options and favorable outcomes for the patient

What We Can Do to Raise Awareness About IBS

  • Download the IBS awareness poster from the IFFGD site and share widely on social media such as Twitter and Facebook
  • Persons with IBS can share their stories on social media to inspire other patients and their families
  • Make a personal contribution or collect money to donate to the IBS awareness campaign
  • Display educational messages about IBS in hospitals and clinics to raise awareness among the public
  • Distribute IBS information leaflets to the public at prominent locations in your neighborhood such as parks, malls and libraries
  • Wear the IBS awareness ribbon to show your solidarity for the campaign or dress in periwinkle blue on any day during the month
  • Print and visual media must carry prominent and catchy messages about IBS to educate the public and organize discussions and talks by subject experts to dispel myths and misconceptions about the condition
  • Hospitals and clinics should offer free check-up for persons having IBS to encourage them to seek medical advice
  • Governments and health officials should recognize this common condition and ensure affordable and accessible healthcare for all persons with IBS

Key Facts & Figures about IBS

  • It is a common condition; 10-23 percent of global population have IBS
  • Many persons with IBS are not aware of their condition and don't seek treatment
  • IBS is associated with social stigma making things more difficult for these patients
  • Over 30 million persons are affected in the US alone
  • It affects persons of all ages from children to older adults
  • Females are affected more than males (2 out of 3 cases)
  • IBS is a chronic condition and has no cure
  • Stress and anxiety can make symptoms worse
  • Symptoms can be successfully controlled helping the patient to live life normally

Living & Coping with IBS

  • Read about the condition and know more about various treatment options
  • Seek medical advice from a specialist and get a proper diagnosis
  • Take medications as prescribed
  • Make dietary and lifestyle changes that work for you such as whole wheat bread, dry fruits except raisins, steamed vegetables, brown rice, bananas, peppermint and fennel seeds
  • Consult your doctor about the low FODMAP diet i.e Fermentable, Oligosaccharides (like fructans, and galactans), Di-saccharides (like fructose and glucose) and Polyols (like mannitol, maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and isomalt). 
  • Avoid foods that trigger symptoms (maintain a food diary)
  • Practice relaxation and deep breathing to relieve stress
  • See a therapist for counseling to help cope with anxiety symptoms

Summary

Irritable bowel syndrome awareness month observed in April aims to raise awareness about this common but little spoken about condition and helps people suffering from this condition. A survey that was taken between 2007-2016 showed that much more needs to be done to support patients with IBS receive suitable treatment and help them lead a normal and productive life.

References :
  1. April is IBS Awareness Month - (https://www.aboutibs.org/ibs-awareness-month.html)
  2. IBS Awareness Month - (https://www.badgut.org/information-centre/a-z-digestive-topics/ibs-awareness/)


Source: Medindia

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