April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month.
Approximately 20 to 40% of all visits to gastroenterologists are due to IBS symptoms*
WHAT IS IBS?
IBS is a disorder in the gut-brain axis (the way the gut and the brain communicate with one another). The gut and brain are a two-way communication system that ‘talk’ to each other very often. When you feel hungry, your gut is talking to your brain. When you have butterflies in your stomach, your brain is talking to your gut. Sometimes these two organs can overshare information and because people with IBS have an ‘overly sensitive gut’, this can result in symptoms.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF IBS?
The symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain or discomfort, diarrhoea, constipation or a mixture of both. Approximately one third of those with IBS suffer from bouts of constipation, one third suffer from bouts of diarrhoea and most other people don’t fall into a single pattern. Other symptoms include bloating and urgency. IBS affects more women than men, and affects all ethnicities.
WHAT TREATMENT IS AVAILABLE?
Treatments are very individual, as they vary depending on your symptoms. They can include medications, diet and lifestyle factors. It is important to work alongside your doctor with the treatments you would like to try, but please remember that IBS symptoms are individual. What works for one person might not always work for another.
There are some very simple changes you can make to your diet that may be helpful to reduce your symptoms. It is important that you work alongside a registered dietitian that is trained in treating people with IBS before making any drastic changes to your diet.