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April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month

Image result for ibs awareness month 2018Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common condition of bowel discomfort, accompanied by alternating constipation and diarrhea – how lovely! In an effort to raise awareness and understanding of the condition, April is IBS Awareness Month.

IBS affects between 10 and 15% of the world’s population, and somewhere between 25 and 45 million Americans (and the majority of people with the condition are women!). It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact number of people with this condition, since many go undiagnosed because the symptoms aren’t always so obvious.

Common Misconceptions 

It’s a common misconception that stress causes IBS, given the connection between your brain and your gut (think of the last time you got nervous and had to run to the bathroom). While stress doesn’t cause the condition, it can certainly worsen it.

Another thing to note is that IBS and IBD are not the same thing. IBD is Inflammatory Bowel Disorder, a more serious digestive disorder that includes conditions like Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Sufferers of IBD often experience more severe symptoms such as fatigue, lack of appetite, weight loss, or eye, joint or skin problems.

How to Deal

Treatment for IBS depends on a number of things, including how severe your symptoms are and the general condition of your health otherwise. Your doctor might prescribe changes to your diet, such as cutting out dairy or other common digestive disruptors. There are a handful of medications that can help, and in some cases, minor surgery might even be an option.

The International Foundation for for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) has created a host of great resources for folks who want to know more about IBS and what it means for them. Have a look at Symptoms and CausesThe Digestive System, and Finding a Doctor for more information.

This April, don’t shy away from talking about your digestive discomfort. Together we can normalize the conversation to help understand the condition.

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