Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a chronic disorder of the stomach and intestines. IBS affects approximately 13-20% of all Canadians. This disorder can range from mild to debilitating, and many (up to 60%) affected by this condition suffer in silence instead of seeking medical help.
What are the symptoms of IBS?
Abdominal pain, Bloating, Constipation and Diarrhea.
Some affected by this condition have only diarrhea and others only constipation. However, many of those with IBS experience alternating constipation and diarrhea. Almost everyone experiences these symptoms at some point during their lives. In those suffering from IBS these symptoms are frequent and severe enough to interfere with their day-to-day activities.
Along with these symptoms, other problems such as sleep disturbances, fibromyalgia, back pain, chronic pelvic pain and migraine headaches may be associated with IBS.
How is IBS diagnosed? There is no simple test that can be done to diagnose this condition. Diagnosis is based on medical history and a physical exam. A physician may perform tests to rule out other conditions such as celiac disease which has similar symptoms.
How is IBS managed? IBS is experienced by each person differently. Therefore, therapy must be customized based on triggers and symptoms.
The cornerstones of therapy include:
- Diet and Lifestyle modification – Foods that trigger symptoms must be avoided. Additionally, diet can be used to treat constipation and diarrhea.
- Stress Reduction – Stress can exacerbate IBS symptoms
- Medications – Medications can be used to control constipation and/or diarrhea as well as pain.
- Probiotics – see DF Ultra Flora Article
If you suffer from IBS and feel that your medications aren’t working as well as they could be, speak with your pharmacist to see if there are any changes that can be made to ease your symptoms.
Take the 30 Second IBS Test to see if you may have IBS
- Have you had discomfort or pain anywhere in your abdomen 2-3 times or more in the past 3 months?
If yes to above, then:
- Does the discomfort or pain sometimes get better after a bowel movement?
- Is the discomfort or pain associated with a change in the frequency of bowel movements?
- Is the discomfort or pain sometimes associated with constipation or diarrhea?
If you answered *YES* to any of these questions you may have IBS. Ask your physician or pharmacist today for help.
For more information on IBS and other gastrointestinal conditions visit www.badgut.org