2012-04-01 - Learn how to manage this complex bowel disorder.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder characterized by abdominal pain or discomfort, and altered bowel habit (chronic or recurrent diarrhea, constipation, or both - either mixed or in alternation).

IBS affects about 10-15% of the population of people in the United States. About 2 in 3 sufferers are female. IBS affects people of all ages, even children. It is second only to the common cold as a cause of absenteeism from work.
Most persons with IBS are under the age of 50, but many older adults suffer as well.
The exact cause of IBS is not known. Symptoms may result from a disturbance in the way the gut, brain, and nervous system interact.
Stress does not cause IBS. However, because of the connection between the brain and the gut, stress can worsen or trigger symptoms.
The impact of IBS can range from mild inconvenience to severe debilitation. It can control many aspects of a person's emotional, social and professional life.
IBS is unpredictable. Symptoms vary and are sometimes contradictory. Diarrhea can alternate with constipation.
Treatments are available for IBS to help manage symptoms. Not all treatments work for all people. Through research, better treatments may be found.
Although IBS is common in the general population, few seek medical care for their condition.
IBS can only be diagnosed by a medical professional.
Take an active role in your own health care. Learn all you can about IBS so you understand the nature of the disorder.
Try to identify things that seem to make your symptoms worse and work on reducing their impact.

For more information about IBS, visit the IFFGD website at: http://www.aboutibs.org/site/about-ibs