IBS Explained For People Who Do Not Have IBS
IBS stands for irritable bowel syndrome and it is estimated to affect 58 million Americans. People with IBS want you to know first and foremost that it is a real disorder with serious daily repercussions. There is no cure and no way to fully prevent bouts of IBS, but careful steps can be taken to limit the severity of IBS.
What Is IBS?
IBS is a disorder of the intestines that causes constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramping and bloating. Symptoms may vary greatly due to stress, diet, lifestyle habits and other factors. Many doctors prescribe medication to ease symptoms and reduce the frequency and severity of bowel movements.
What Are the Symptoms of IBS?
Common symptoms include constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating and cramping. Bowel movements may be very painful and accompanied by severe cramping. Most people with IBS tend to have either diarrhea or constipation more frequently, although some alternate between the two. Some people experience no medical problems related to their IBS, while others have it so severely that it interferes with their daily life.
What Causes IBS?
Doctors aren't sure the exact cause of IBS. Some suspect it's caused by the brain, in the form of mistaken brain signals. People with IBS often find their condition triggered by such things as diet, stress, sleep changes, hormonal changes, antibiotics or other medications and in those with a family history. Women are much more likely to have IBS than men.
How Does IBS Affect a Person's Life?
IBS can have serious effects on a person. Some people have such severe IBS that they have 3 to 5 bowel movements each morning before they leave the house! Most of us would find this surprising, but this is a real situation many people must face. A lot of people with IBS experience negative reactions from those around then, especially while at work or in school. How do you explain to your boss why you're away from your desk for so long each day of the week? Many people have a doctor's note that they keep handy to ensure fair treatment. Often these people need much more time to do things than others. Preparing for work may take a few hours due to the frequency of symptoms. Once at work, life does not ease up. These people may find it impossible to sit through meetings during an IBS flare-up. There is little they can do but suffer through it and hope for the best. Due to the somewhat awkward nature of IBS, those who have the condition find it that much more difficult to handle. It's one thing to tell your boss that you have asthma, and need to use an inhaler frequently. It's a completely different issue to tell your boss or co-workers that you have IBS and need to use the restroom frequently. Many people feel embarrassed to disclose such personal information. If you know someone with IBS, be sure to really try and understand what they are going through. Your support may be more important than you know.
Sources: http://www.webmd.com/ibs/dealing-ibs-at-work http://www.webmd.com/ibs/guide/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs-topic-overview