Four Facts and Myths about IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) may not be the most well known medical problem, but it is still something that affects numerous people. The facts below can help shed some light on this troubling condition.

More Common Than You Think: You might think that IBS is not especially common. In fact, it is believed that about 1 in 7 people worldwide live with this disease. This equates to about 10 to 15 percent of the world’s population. Even this figure might be an understatement; not everyone with this condition actually receives a proper diagnosis.

A Discriminating Disease: You might think that IBS affects women and men at the same rate. In fact, roughly two-thirds of people who develop IBS are women. As of now, doctors aren’t entirely sure as to why this is the case. One possible answer could involve women having more of a certain neurotransmitter inside their brains, which in turn affects the body’s digestive system.

A Tough Nut to Crack: Surprising as it might sound, Irritable Bowel Syndrome is actually fairly difficult to diagnose. The reason for this is that IBS is classified as a functional gastrointestinal disorder. In other words, there is little difference when the gut of an IBS sufferer is compared to someone with a normally functioning digestive system.

So if they can’t spot IBS under a microscope, how can doctors identify this condition? The answer is that all other possible candidates, such as Crohn’s Disease, must be ruled out. Doctors may also attempt to determine if the patient’s symptoms match up with a set of guidelines known as the Rome criteria.

Different Problems for Different People: A hallmark characteristic of IBS is that its symptoms can vary wildly from person to person. In fact, this is such an issue that people with IBS are often divided into three subcategories, based on the digestive health problems they experience.

Those diagnosed with IBS-C are usually affected by constipation on a relatively regular basis. In contrast, diarrhea is the main symptom associated with IBS-D. Finally, people who develop IBS-M will go back and forth between having diarrhea and becoming constipated.

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