April is National IBS Awareness Month. I felt that this is definitely a topic we should discuss as women under the age of 50 are two times more likely than men to suffer from IBS. According to AboutIBS.org it takes a woman an average of 6 years of suffering symptoms before a diagnosis is made! And sufferers restrict their activities on average 73 days per year - that's more than once a week! Ladies - there's no need to suffer! IBS is definitely manageable.
There are 3 types of IBS:
IBS C - Constipation dominant
IBS D - Diarrhoea dominant
IBS M - Mixed
The most common symptoms of IBS include:
Change in bowel movement frequency
Diagnosis is typically made via verbal decree of symptoms, but can also include further testing. For example stool studies, colonoscopy or upper endoscopy and lactose intolerance test to rule out other diagnoses such as cancer, coeliac disease or lactose intolerance.
Management of symptoms will often involve an elimination diet until the specific instigators are found. People who have been previously diagnosed with FODMAPs are more likely to also suffer from IBS, so most health care practitioners will begin with that plan. Be patient with yourself during this time.
Stress is a specific lifestyle factor that can be a contributing cause to the original onset and continuing flare-ups of IBS. Stress management is essential to the reduction severity of symptoms and the occurrence of incidents.
Ongoing management will likely be required, but once initial food sensitivity testing has been completed you will get to know the foods that trigger you and can make lifestyle changes that will result in drastically reducing or eliminating what can be debilitating symptoms.
Should your IBS be affecting your mood, work or ability to leave the house, please see your healthcare practitioner straight away as there are also medications that can be prescribed to help you.
There's no point in suffering unnecessarily!