By: Gastroenterology of Greater Orlando

The International Foundation of Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) established April as IBS Awareness Month in 1997. Since then, we have used the month to raise awareness for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) so that we can improve patient care and increase educational opportunities.

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IBS symptoms are often inconsistent, fluctuating and unpredictable. Constipation can alternate with diarrhea. The effects of IBS can range from minor discomfort to severe debilitation. Those with moderate to severe IBS often battle with symptoms that frequently compromise their physical, emotional, and social well-being – affecting their personal and professional lives.

In the U.S., studies show that about 10%-15% of people have the condition, affecting between 25 and 45 million citizens. During this time, we join with patients, family members, and caregivers to raise public awareness about IBS and to help reduce the stigma associated with the various kinds of IBS.

What is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional gastrointestinal disorder or a GI disorder of gut-brain interactions. The disorder is characterized by gastrointestinal symptoms such as chronic stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. IBS’ precise cause is unknown. However, certain factors are believed to increase your chances of having IBS, including having a family member with the condition, a history of stressful or traumatic life events, and a severe infection in the digestive tract. The disorder usually presents a lifelong issue that can impact daily life and quality of life.

Oversensitive nerves in the gut and contraction of the intestinal muscles have been observed to play roles in the condition. Intestinal walls are lined with layers of muscle that flex to propel food through the digestive system. When they don’t function as they should, food can either pass through the gut too quickly or too slowly.

IBS is often confused with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, they are different conditions. IBD is a chronic inflammation of the intestines that can lead to permanent damage like intestinal bleeding or other intestinal diseases.

Common Treatments for IBS

Physicians may treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) by making recommendations to make dietary and lifestyle changes, medications, and mental health therapy. People often need to try multiple therapies to determine what works for them, especially since different people have specific triggers. One of the best ways to manage the condition is to avoid triggers, which may be related to your diet, mental health, and medication for other health issues. The most common triggers of IBS include:

●    Stress and anxiety
●    Refined grains
●    Processed foods
●    High-protein foods
●    Coffee
●    Carbonated drinks
●    Alcohol
●    Dairy products (especially for people who are lactose intolerant)
●    High-fiber foods
●    Chocolate
●    Fatty and fried foods
●    Gluten (especially for people who are allergic to gluten)
●    Antibiotics
●    Some antidepressants

●    Certain medicines

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While there’s no cure for IBS, we know that changes in diet and lifestyle, along with stress prevention, can help manage the symptoms.For more on gut health and managing symptoms of IBS, contact Gastroenterology of Greater Orlando. We are a cutting-edge clinical gastroenterology practice that sets the standard in digestive health care.

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