You have a chronic condition that causes pain, occasional embarrassment and lifestyle restriction. Nobody really knows why or how you got it, though there are theories. There’s no cure, though the symptoms are treatable. Sometimes you can eat whatever you want, others even looking at something as innocent as white rice causes spasms.
It sounds dreadful, doesn’t it? Well, if you are one of these people, you may have IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
For those who don’t have IBS, have you ever had food poisoning? Imagine that happening to you every day or even several times a month. The problem is that it’s not well understood. IBS can effect you either with diarrhea or constipation, and it’s estimated to effect 3-20% of the population. It’s a wide estimation because not everyone will seek medical help or even think they have a medical condition.
IBS can be treated in a variety of ways, including dietary, hypnosis, lifestyle changes, yoga, medications, therapy, etc. Some doctors will perform gastrointestinal scans to rule out other medical problems, while others will just write a prescription for an anti-spasmodic and allow you to go on your way.
Do you have IBS? How do you deal with your symptoms?
There are lots of resources out there to learn more about IBS and how to treat your symptoms. The US Department of Health and Human Services has a good overview. Thehelpforibs.com site has a lot of information and message boards (fair warning--they also sell supplements and books about IBS). There’s even a site directed at women with IBS.
In the end, you’ll need to have a conversation with your primary care doctor if you’re not sure you’ve got IBS and to make sure it’s not something more serious.
And if you have any unexpected emergencies remember we're always here to help!
Photo credit: Dranik / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA and http://help-health.com/stomach-pain-after-eating/