Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that is characterized by recurring symptoms including abdominal pain, cramping or bloating. These symptoms are often associated with altered bowel habits, such as constipation, diarrhea or both.
There is no single, specific test to diagnose IBS. Rather, IBS is diagnosed when a person has these symptoms occurring several times a month for a few months in a row or longer. IBS is different from occasional constipation or diarrhea and is not caused by other diseases or injuries.
IBS can cause pain, distress and discomfort. While some people have mild symptoms, others have pain so severe that it becomes disabling. Up to one in five Americans has IBS, which is 1.5-2 times more likely to affect women than men.
Contrary to popular belief, stress and anxiety do no cause IBS. However, life stressors and certain types of anxiety may affect the frequency and intensity of IBS symptoms. Research shows that learning how to adjust the way you and your body respond to stress can improve IBS symtoms and the quality of your life.
“As many as 70 percent of people with IBS are not being treated for the condition,” explains Meriter Gastroenterologist, Gary Griglione, MD. “Since there is no cure for IBS at present, treatment efforts are focused on lifestyle, diet and stress reduction. Fortunately, IBS has not been linked to cancer, which helps lower the stress some people feel regarding the condition.”
Self-care plays an important role in managing IBS, such as the following:
- Eating a balanced, low-fat diet
- Drinking plenty of water
- Exercising regularly
- Getting quality sleep
Meriter’s IBS Program offers a patient-centered, team-based, holistic approach to treatment. We believe that it is possible to live well even if you have a chronic condition, such as IBS. Our interdisciplinary team of specialists includes gastroenterology, medical nutrition, medical psychology and integrative medicine. We provide a treatment plan that focuses on self-management strategies that will improve your physical health, emotional well-being and quality of life.
For more information about Meriter’s IBS Program, call 608.417.5454 or visit meriter.com/digestivehealth.