DR. ISLAM: Five things you should know about IBS

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can often be extremely uncomfortable and embarrassing. No one likes admitting that they need to leave a party early because they’re having “stomach issues.” People don’t even like talking about these discomforts with their doctor, which is why IBS is so common — yet many go through life undiagnosed and untreated. Today we’ll discuss 5 things to know about IBS.

IBS is inconvenient

Irritable bowel syndrome is demonstrated by a “flare-up” of symptoms. Thankfully, this means that your symptoms will not be continuous. However, symptoms may show up during inconvenient times and situations. Symptoms include diarrhea, constipation, or even a rotation between the two. Cramping or bloating in the abdomen and excess gas are also common symptoms. Typically, relief will come after a bowel movement, but we know that sometimes you’re not always in a place where you can take care of that immediately. This is why IBS can be so uncomfortable and often frustrating to endure. Symptoms can range from mild to severe in both consistency and intensity. Unfortunately, there is no cure for IBS, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck in your misery.

Stress eating triggers IBS flares

There is no known cause of IBS. However, there are several factors that may trigger symptoms. The two most common triggers are stress and food. When you’re stressed do you eat a pint of ice cream in one sitting or crave all things that look like bread? You may be piling on the triggers of IBS without even realizing it! During stressful seasons of life, you may notice your IBS symptoms have increased. Stress often plays a role in our food choices so it’s important for you to know what foods tend to trigger symptoms. If you suffer from IBS you may want to remove dairy, wheat, cabbage, beans, citrus fruits, and carbonated drinks from your diet. While you may not be able to get rid of IBS altogether, you do have control over your stress level and the food that you consume. Take care of your mental health and be cautious about your food intake. You may avoid unwanted symptoms in the process.

Young females, beware

Another trigger of IBS symptoms is hormones. This may indicate why women experience increased symptoms during menstruation. In fact, there are more women who suffer from IBS than men. Of those diagnosed, 60 percent are female. Young people under the age of 50 are at a greater risk for developing IBS than those who are older. A family history of IBS may also indicate a higher risk of having this syndrome, so if you experience regular symptoms of IBS, find out if anyone else in your family suffers as well.

IBS is the best

We know it sounds crazy, but there are several positive things about IBS that make it one of the best gastrointestinal issues. First, it’s important to specify that IBS is a disorder, not a disease. And although it is chronic in nature, it is not life-threatening. Second, you are not at a greater risk for colon cancer simply because you have IBS. Third, symptoms are not on-going. You can be thankful that bloating, cramping, constipation and diarrhea are not a part of your everyday life. In fact, you can easily manage your symptoms by making a few lifestyle adjustments. Isn’t that the best news?

Don’t be embarrassed

There’s no need to be embarrassed about the symptoms you experience. There are between 2.4 and 3.5 million doctor visits each year for IBS related issues. So you’re not alone! It’s important for you to seek a GI specialist if you show signs for IBS so that they can help alleviate your symptoms. Treatment may be available as you and your doctor discover what triggers your IBS symptoms. The longer you wait to see a doctor, the more uncomfortable you will be.