But the fact is, if you struggle with irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, you are far from alone. It's estimated that somewhere between 9% and 23% of the world’s population has irritable bowel syndrome, and roughly 35 million people in the US alone have irritable bowel syndrome.
Another unfortunate IBS fact is that many who suffer from it don't know they have it, remaining undiagnosed, not even knowing that their symptoms collectively add up to a medically recognized disorder.
For these and other reasons, the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders in 1997 designated the month of April as IBS Awareness Month, focusing attention on spreading the word about IBS diagnosis, IBS treatment, and quality of life issues for those with irritable syndrome.
What is irritable bowel syndrome?
Medical science does not yet know the cause of IBS. What they do know is that women are nearly three times more likely to be diagnosed with IBS than men. However, the figures for men may actually be higher, since women are statistically more likely to get diagnoses, or seek medical attention, than are men. Researchers believe that only 30 percent of those with irritable bowel syndrome symptoms ever seek medical attention.
Research also indicates that IBS is one of the most common GI disorders. Even though it is often not reported, it is nonetheless one of the most frequent reasons that people choose to visit their primary care physician or gastroenterologist.
Get help with irritable bowel syndrome
- Get a D! According to the Vitamin D Council, vitamin D supplementation can have a beneficial effect on your IBS symptoms. Irritable bowel syndrome is believed to be an autoimmune disease, and research shows that vitamin D is a significant player in developing or maintaining healthy immune function. The Council also states that Vitamin D can help you maintain the balance of a healthy intestinal mucosal barrier, which doesn’t function properly when you have IBS.
- See your doctor. There are medications available to ease the pain and irregularity of irritable bowel syndrome that a doctor can prescribe.
- Change your diet. Those who have struggled with IBS report that they have been able to greatly improve their irritable bowel syndrome symptoms by modifying their diet. Certain foods can trigger IBS symptoms. For example, milk products have known to be problematic for IBS sufferers. By avoiding these foods, you can experience relief from IBS symptoms.
- Change your lifestyle. IBS sufferers also report that getting regular exercise and managing your stress level can reduce symptoms. Other non-medication lifestyle treatments that may help reduce symptoms include relaxation training, yoga, or hypnosis.
- Get support - Consider participating on the the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Self Help and Support Group website. This patient-led and patient-governed organization works to help those who suffers from IBS through patient communication, IBS support, and IBS education on symptoms, causes, treatment, and information.
- Learn about IBS. To increase your knowledge and understanding of irritable bowel syndrome and what you can do about it, visit the IFFGD IBS Awareness Month page, their Facts about IBS page, IBS Symptoms page, or their IBS Diagnosis page.
|Source: Vitamin D Council|
Help others with IBS
- You can print the IBS awareness poster shown above and share it on your workplace bulletin boards, on Facebook, or around your neighborhood. In fact, the International Foundation for Functional Digestive Disorders (IFFGD) has an entire collection of posters on IBS awareness that you can download and share for free here.
- You can also join the Digestive Health Alliance and use your voice or wallet to make a difference.