10 Things to Know About Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is not an uncommon problem — but there is a lot of confusion about it. It can be hard to talk about, but understanding the syndrome can make it easier. Here are a few facts about irritable bowel syndrome that you should know.

What is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome is commonly referred to as IBS. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases defines irritable bowel syndrome as a group of symptoms that occur together, which include recurring abdominal pain and changes in bowel movements such as diarrhea, constipation, or both.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a functional gastrointestinal disorder, which means that there’s a problem with how the brain and gut work together. Research suggests that the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal system have strong and complex connections. This allows your digestive system to become prepared to digest your dinner before food actually reaches your stomach. Your GI system responds to sights, smells and thoughts.

It can also mean that your digestive system responds to stress and sensitivities with discomfort. IBS is sometimes described as a hypersensitivity.

What causes IBS?

While there are a number of things that may contribute to IBS, it’s unclear exactly what causes IBS.

IBS is a common problem

According to a 2015 clinical review, approximately 12% of Americans have irritable bowel syndrome. However, only a small percentage of these people have severe symptoms.

IBS doesn’t harm the intestines

The symptoms of IBS may cause pain or discomfort, but irritable bowel syndrome does not cause damage to your digestive tract.

Certain factors increase risk for IBS

You are more likely to have irritable bowel syndrome if a family member has or had IBS.

There’s an increased risk for irritable bowel syndrome in those with a history of mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, or trauma.

Who gets IBS?

IBS affects twice as many women as men.

Irritable bowel syndrome is most commonly diagnosed in people younger than 45 years of age.

How do you treat IBS?

There are several possible treatments for irritable bowel syndrome. IBS treatments may include changes to your diet, medicines, probiotics, and stress management therapies.

When should you talk to a doctor for IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome may indicate a more serious problem. Contact your primary care physician if you experience weight loss, bleeding, persistent pain, or if you are concerned about any of your symptoms.

Schedule an appointment with a doctor in Northwest Arkansas today.