MILWAUKEE, April 3, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- It may come as a surprise, since it's often regarded as a minor condition, but irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most burdensome chronic ailments reported by patients. Yet, there is a general lack of awareness about IBS, and most people suffering with the condition have not received a diagnosis.
April is IBS Awareness Month. The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) encourages people experiencing persistent or recurring symptoms that may be IBS to see their doctor for help.
The diagnosis of IBS is based on whether symptoms meet certain defined criteria. Abdominal pain is the key symptom of IBS. The pain is associated with specific changes in bowel function.
For many people with IBS, pain and bowel changes – diarrhea or constipation that continues or keeps coming back over time – are not the only symptoms they experience. Abdominal bloating or distension is common. IBS symptoms can coexist with other conditions, such as headache, heartburn, or gastroesophageal reflux disease. The presence of several symptoms may be confusing and require separate treatment approaches. A healthcare provider can best help sort this out for people.
"Self diagnosis may delay effective treatment," said Nancy J. Norton, founder of IFFGD. "It's not easy to sort through multiple symptoms to get a clear picture. But when symptoms begin to interfere with daily life, it's time to see a doctor to get help."
For many people their IBS can be treated with dietary guidance, lifestyle changes, and other therapies that do not require drugs. Some people benefit from medications, which are generally most effective when used along with other treatment approaches.
"An accurate diagnosis helps assure the right treatment," Ms. Norton said. "IBS is a chronic or long-term condition with symptoms that may come and go and change over time. Working with a healthcare professional can help people with IBS reduce or avoid symptoms and achieve their treatment goals."
A strong doctor-patient relationship means more than receiving medical treatment. It also means a relationship where IBS patients can learn about self-management tools and reliable educational resources that they can call on whenever needed. The aim is to help individuals with IBS spend less time seeking health care and more time living life to its fullest.
The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) is a nonprofit education and research organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people affected by chronic digestive conditions. Learn more on their websites at www.iffgd.org or www.aboutIBS.org.
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SOURCE International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD)