April is IBS Awareness Month
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may be a sensitive topic for some, but it is a more common disorder than many realize. In fact, almost about 10 to 15% of people experience it. Those dealing with IBS symptoms need to know they're not alone. Consequently, IBS Awareness Month is designed to educate and support people who are dealing with this problem.
The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) designated April as IBS Awareness Month in 1997. They wanted to raise awareness about IBS, provide information on treatment options, and encourage anyone coping with IBS to seek out help from a doctor.
to improve their quality of life. However, many people continue to be undiagnosed. They're unaware that help is available for anyone dealing with this medically recognized disorder.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Troubles
Of all the people dealing with IBS, approximately 40% of them will seek medical help. Although the condition is more common in women, men are affected by it as well. The condition does not target a specific generation either, as people of all ages have reported IBS issues from young children to the elderly. Symptoms can come and go, so people might feel well but be hit by symptoms out of nowhere. Common symptoms reported with IBS include abdominal pain, bloating, loose stools, diarrhea, or constipation.
Certain foods can trigger an IBS flare-up and should be avoided if possible. The food items include bread, cereals, carbonated drinks, alcohol, processed food, and dairy products. Eating a diet with large amounts of fiber is encouraged as it's shown to reduce the symptoms of IBS. Plus, fresh, homemade food is shown to help since it is typically less processed than alternative meals you may find in a restaurant. Exercise can also help keep intestinal issues at bay.
Living With IBS
Living with IBS can be a major challenge and can cause quality of life issues. The unpredictability of the condition can leave a person fearful to leave their house. For example, traveling to a new place or along new routes can be very stressful if a person is not familiar with accessible restrooms. That's why people with IBS often times strictly plan ahead. A sudden need to use the bathroom can't be scheduled so trips may need to be planned around the location of toilets.
Even when in a comfortable location, people with IBS may feel embarrassed around using the bathroom. For example, they may be self-conscious about making noise or potential odors associated with this necessary part of life. With lowered discretion, those suffering from IBS may be fearful of potential humiliation due to their condition.
How to Raise Awareness About Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Raising awareness about IBS can facilitate better outcomes for people who have the disorder. Additional research, increased education, and improved care can result in a better quality of life for people suffering from IBS. There are many ways you can get involved. You can download the 2022 IBS Awareness Month Toolkit (PDF) put together by the IFFGD to learn more to help increase visibility about IBS.