Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) has become one of the most common disorders primary care physicians see today. It is a disorder that interferes with the normal function of the large intestines (or colon).
The symptoms associated with IBS are thought to be related to the faulty communication between the brain and the intestinal tract, which causes abnormal contractions in the intestines and can cause the following symptoms:
- Excess gas
- Diarrhea and/or constipation
- Sensation of more stool in the bowel immediately following a movement
- Mucus in the stool
RISK FACTORS FOR IBS
The exact cause of it is still unclear, but tremendous advances in understanding this common and disabling disorder have been made. For example, doctors now know that IBS tends to be more common in the following groups:
- People younger than 35
- People with panic or other psychological disorders
- Those with a family history of IBS
Doctors have also found that the frequency seems to be the same across ethnic and national boundaries.
Treatment options are available to manage IBS whether symptoms are mild, moderate or severe. Talk to your doctor so he or she can give you the best treatments available for your particular symptoms. Treatment does not necessarily have to include medication. The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) suggests a few lifestyle changes can be as helpful as medication, including:
- Reducing stress levels
- Exercising or finding a hobby
- Attending counseling sessions
- Being diet-conscious
- Avoiding foods high in fat
- Drinking plenty of water and reducing intake of carbonated beverages
- Not skipping meals, which can cause overeating at the next meal
- Eating a number of small meals each day instead of three large ones
- Keeping a diary of foods eaten and whether or not symptoms are experienced afterward
MYTH VS FACT
Myth 1: IBS is an uncommon condition.
In the United States, up to 45 million people suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Despite the high incidence of IBS, patients are often misunderstood or stigmatized. The symptoms of IBS can have a significant impact on one’s quality of life.
Myth 2: IBS is difficult to diagnose and requires many tests.
Doctors primarily diagnose IBS through symptoms patients describe and by ruling out other conditions. Doctors may examine conditions in which the bowel appears normal but is not functioning normally. The Rome Criteria, a combination of common IBS symptoms, is usually used by physicians to aid in diagnosing IBS.
Myth 3: There is no cure for IBS.
There isn’t a cure for IBS, but it is treated with a combination of diet and medication under the care of a gastroenterologist. Making dietary changes by eliminating gluten and gas-producing foods is a good place to start. Breathing exercises and activities such as yoga can help with stress which can help control bouts of IBS. Additionally, there are medications available to treat IBS and ease the symptoms.
Myth 4: IBS caused by stress.
Stress may play a large part in IBS for some people but not everyone. When we encounter a very stressful situation, many of our bodily functions shut down, including the digestive system. Constant underlying stress leads to poor digestive function, resulting in symptoms like indigestion, bloating, flatulence and/or diarrhea/constipation.
Myth 5: IBS cases are all the same.
IBS cases are not all the same and shouldn’t be treated alike. Treatment options depend on the severity of each case. Treatment options are combined in the way that are best suited to help a patient lessen symptoms and discomfort. Working with a gastroenterologist is the best option to find the right treatment plan for someone suffering with IBS.
Your Benefits with TSBHP
The diagnosis and treatment of IBS can be a lengthy and expensive process requiring a variety of scans and tests. Be sure to call your Care Coordinator at 888.803.0081 or contact us online if you have any questions about your coverage.