Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Written by eHealth Navigator

What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an uncomfortable and embarrassing chronic condition with common symptoms of abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea.  IBS causes are unknown.

Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS affects up to 55 million Americans mostly women.  According to The Center for Disease Control (CDC) one of the top ten reasons women visit their primary care physician is due to IBS.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says while the cause of IBS isn't understood, there are things you can do to help prevent or manage symptoms:

•  Adhere to a regular dining schedule, eating small meals throughout the day, instead of a few large ones.
•  Eat slowly and thoroughly chew food.
•  Eat foods that are high in fiber, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
•  Drink plenty of fluids.
•  Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
•  Keep a food diary to help figure out which foods trigger your IBS.

CDC states neither ulcerative colitis nor Crohn's disease should be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).  While IBS affects the motility (muscle contractions) of the colon, IBS is not characterized by intestinal inflammation, and therefore is a much less serious disease than ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.  Bearing no direct relationship to either ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, IBS results in an estimated $8 billion in direct medical costs annually and predominantly effects women.

There are treatments such as diet and lifesytlye changes and medications that can help.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 1 October 2013 12:49PM