April is IBS Awareness Month, which aims to educate the public about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and to encourage those who have symptoms to see a gastroenterologist. IBS is a disorder that causes bowel problems and abdominal pain. Symptoms include bloating, cramping, excess gas, constipation, and diarrhea.
IBS is a common disorder in the United States and abroad. It’s estimated that between 9-23% of the world’s population experience IBS. Thirty million people in the U.S. alone are said to suffer from IBS.
The pain and symptoms associated with IBS are treatable and can be managed long-term. Many afflicted with IBS lead happy, productive lives without it causing much disruption. A small percentage of those affected by IBS have severe symptoms.
While there are a number of medications your doctor can prescribe to help keep your IBS in check, some find that behavioral changes give them adequate relief. If you are experiencing symptoms of IBS, consider:
- Avoiding food and drink that triggers symptoms, such as dairy, chocolate, fructose, carbonated drinks, alcohol, chocolate
- Drinking plenty of water
- Sleeping 7-8 hours per night
- Exercising for at least 120 minutes each week
IBS Risk Factors
While many people will occasionally experience symptoms of IBS, the following factors put you at risk of having the disorder:
Age – IBS can affect all ages, but it’s most common in people under the age of 50.
Sex – IBS is much more common in females than males. In fact, roughly twice as many women than men have the syndrome.
Mental Health – Depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental health conditions are associated with IBS.
Family History – Studies have shown genetics may play a role in the development of IBS. Cases of IBS running in families are well documented.
Preparing To See a Gastroenterologist
If you’re having symptoms of IBS, it’s important to see a gastroenterologist as soon as possible. Communicating effectively to your doctor what’s going on with you is critical. Before visiting a gastroenterologist, write down all your symptoms, including those that may seem unrelated to IBS. Make a list of any triggers to your symptoms, a list of all your medications, and write down any relevant personal information, such as recent stressors in your life.
At GastroCareLI, we provide specialized care for a wide range of gastrointestinal issues, including IBS. Whether you have a family history of IBS and want to be screened, or you are experiencing symptoms, we can help determine the best course of action for you. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today at (516) 265-7049.