An estimated 15% of people across the globe live with IBS. Millions of people across the world suffer from IBS, yet only half of them get treated.

#1 Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is Common but Uncomfortable.


IBS is a common gastrointestinal disorder and is generally not life-threatening. However, in most cases the cause of the condition is unknown and there is no cure either. It is one of those conditions that creep up on you and stick around forever. Since symptoms include abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea, and bloating, it is definitely a condition that threatens to take control of your life. The key is to get diagnosed early and get equipped with treatment options to manage symptoms.


#2 IBS Is More Common Among Women Than Men.


Irritable bowel syndrome is more common among women, and in fact, it affects twice the number of women than men. Given that the cause of IBS is often unknown, researchers believe that the condition affects women more because it has a connection with the production of female hormones estrogen and progesterone. One theory says given that estrogen and progesterone impair smooth muscle contraction, elevated levels of these hormones impede the contraction of smooth muscle cells in the lining of the stomach and intestines during digestion. As a result, women suffer from IBS more than men. That said, men are also susceptible to the condition.


#3 IBS Is Not Caused by The Consumption of Specific Types of Food.


Certain types of food are considered to cause IBS. The truth is these food items do not cause IBS, but act as triggers for the condition. This means that the person has IBS, and the food merely brings it to the fore. If you have been diagnosed with IBS, then your doctor will probably give you a list of food to avoid – this is to help reduce flares. Some such food items are dairy, high fructose foods and beverages, processed food, carbonated drinks, caffeinated drinks, and even sugar-free chewing gums.


#4 Stress Is a Trigger For IBS


This is a tricky situation. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, its disconcerting symptoms and its unpredictability are quite frustrating. Living in fear of the condition can cause a lot of emotional stress. Patients with IBS often feel like the condition has taken over their life. The stress that results from this frustration only worsens the condition. The emotional centres of the brain are linked to the functioning of the gut. Gut-brain axis is a term for the two-way communication between the brain and the gut. Changes in one affect the other. Hence, stress induces changes in the neuro-endocrine pathways that will affect gut health and lead to flare-ups in IBS.


#5 Gastroenteritis Can Lead To IBS


Recent studies have found a link between gastroenteritis and irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroenteritis is a condition caused when the lining of the guts is inflamed due to an infection. The infection-carrying pathogen is usually foodborne and hence the condition is often referred to as food poisoning. Patients with acute food poisoning often experience symptoms for an extended period. 36% of patients with gastroenteritis go on to develop post-infectious IBS. With the right treatment of symptoms, proper antibiotics and stress management, patients with PI IBS can recover.


#6 50% Of People with IBS Have Not Even Been Diagnosed.


An estimated 15% of people across the globe live with IBS. Millions of people across the world suffer from IBS, yet only half of them get treated. The reason being most people ignore the symptoms as a common ‘stomach bug’. Often people do not even realise that the symptoms of the assumed ‘stomach bug’ are stubborn and recurring. They visit the doctor when symptoms are severe and forget about it once the medications reduce pain and discomfort. Without the right antibiotics and medications, IBS only gets worse. Treatment options for IBS include medication to manage symptoms and stress, formulating a proper diet chart, supplements, quitting smoking, increasing intake of probiotics, learning relaxation techniques and exercise.


CONSULTANT - GASTROENTEROLOGIST at Dr.Kamakshi Memorial Hospitals
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