If you or someone you know seems to be rushing to the restroom more often than normal, they could be suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS. A chronic condition, IBS is something that will need to be managed long-term and can affect your quality of life if not treated correctly. April is IBS Awareness Month, which brings greater attention to the condition.
Symptoms of IBS include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea or constipation, or both. Some people can control their symptoms by managing their diet, lifestyle and stress levels, but more severe cases can be treated with medication.
IBS can be caused by a number of factors, such as stronger and longer muscle contractions in the intestines, poorly coordinated signals between your brain and intestines, inflammation in the intestines, an infection, and changes in bacteria in the gut. Symptoms may arise after a meal, especially when sufferers eat or drink a certain food or beverage that commonly upsets their stomach. Stress can also trigger IBS, as well as hormones. Women are twice as likely to have IBS, which can indicate that hormones play a role.
To find out if you are at risk, see if you have any of these factors. IBS occurs more frequently in people under age 50, and as stated earlier, women are also more likely to have IBS. IBS can also be genetic, so if your family has a history, you may also be at risk. Finally, if you suffer from anxiety, depression or other mental health issues, IBS can be triggered by such stressors.
If you’ve experienced any of these symptoms, talk to your primary care physician. Following a proper diagnosis, you can choose a treatment plan that’s right for you!