• May 22, 2024

IBS 101: Highlighting Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month

April is recognized as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month, dedicated to raising IBS awareness about this common digestive disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. In this article, we’ll delve into the basics of IBS as well as its symptoms, causes, and management, emphasizing the importance of spreading awareness during IBS Awareness Month.

Understanding Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS is one of the most frequently occurring chronic GI disorders and is known for causing bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation. It is often accompanied by shifts in bowel movements and habits. While the exact cause of IBS remains unclear, factors such as abnormal gut motility, visceral hypersensitivity, and psychosocial stressors may contribute to its development. IBS is classified into subtypes based on predominant bowel habits, such as IBS with constipation (IBS-C), mixed IBS (IBS-M), or IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D). Gastroenterologists at our North Houston surgical hospital frequently help patients with all these conditions.

Common symptoms of IBS may include:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, often relieved by bowel movements
  • Bloating and distention of the abdomen
  • Changes in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or alternating bouts of both
  • Urgency or a feeling of incomplete evacuation after bowel movements
  • Excessive gas or flatulence

IBS Awareness Month

IBS Awareness Month provides an opportunity to educate the public, healthcare professionals, and policymakers about the impact of IBS on individuals’ quality of life. Through IBS awareness campaigns, educational events, and advocacy initiatives, organizations aim to increase understanding of IBS, reduce stigma, and improve access to effective treatments at our North Houston surgical hospital and support services for individuals living with the condition.

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Management of IBS

While there is no cure for IBS, various treatment options, listed below, are available to help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

  1. Dietary modifications:Avoiding trigger foods such as certain carbohydrates (see our info about FODMAPs), caffeine, and alcohol, and incorporating fiber-rich foods, probiotics, and adequate hydration into the diet. Work with a GI physician at TOPS Surgical Specialty Hospital to learn more.
  2. Lifestyle changes:Managing stress through relaxation techniques, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep can help alleviate IBS symptoms.
  3. Medications:Over-the-counter and prescription medications, such as antispasmodics, laxatives, and antidepressants, may be prescribed to relieve specific symptoms associated with IBS.
  4. Behavioral therapies:Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), hypnotherapy, and gut-directed psychotherapy can be effective in reducing symptom severity and improving coping strategies for managing IBS.

IBS Awareness Month may be over, but its designation serves as a reminder of the significant impact that IBS has on individuals’ lives and the importance of ongoing education and support. By increasing IBS awareness, advocating for research, and promoting access to comprehensive care, we can empower individuals with IBS to better manage their condition and improve their overall well-being.

TOPS Surgical Specialty Hospital is ready to support you through your IBS diagnosis and treatment journey by helping you find a gastrointestinal surgeon who’s committed to providing compassionate care. Visit our Gastroenterology services webpage to learn more about IBS and scroll down to find the right gastroenterology physician near you. Once you find his or her bio, you can click on their photo to visit their website and make an appointment.


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