Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month

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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is so common that it's likely you know at least one person with this functional disorder. It primarily affects women, in fact, studies show that 2 out of 3 cases of IBS are women. An estimated 12% of people in the United States suffer from IBS. The month of April is IBS awareness month, aiming to educate and inform the public on this functional gastrointestinal disorder.

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What is IBS?      

Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional GI disorder affecting the large intestine. IBS is a chronic condition and symptoms vary person to person. Functional GI disorders means the intestines don’t work properly resulting in a group of signs and symptoms including:

  •         Cramping

  •         Abdominal pain

  •         Bloating

  •         Gas

  •         Diarrhea

  •         Constipation

There are different types of IBS: IBS- C (with constipation), IBS- D (with diarrhea), IBS- M (with mixed bowel habits).

What causes IBS?

Though the cause is unknown, doctors have some ideas of what might be the culprit. Functional GI disorders refer to problems with the gut- brain interaction. This can cause the food to move too fast or too slow through the digestive tract, resulting in a handful of the symptoms described above. Stress, mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, bacterial infections in the gut, SIBO in the small intestine, and food intolerances are all possible causes of IBS as well.

How can you keep IBS under control?

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While there are medications, depending on what type of IBS you have, medication alone sometimes isn’t enough to keep symptoms as bay. It’s important to know what triggers your IBS so you can avoid it. Common triggers include:

  •        Stress

  •         Processed foods

  •         Carbonated drinks, alcohol, coffee

  •         Dairy products

  •         Gluten (For some people, not all)

  •         Eating large meals/ eating too quickly

  •         Fatty/ fried foods


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Tips for keeping symptoms under control:

  •         Don’t stress! Easier said than done, I know. During times of high stress, find something relaxing to do to help reduce your stress.

  •         Keep a journal and log what you eat and any symptoms, that way you can find what food may be triggering your symptoms.

  •         Practice healthy habits and eat a well-balanced diet, cutting out processed, fried, sugary foods.

  •         Drink plenty of water

  •         Eat slowly

  •         Exercise regularly

  •         Get adequate sleep