stigma of IBS

The number of people who suffer with IBS is thought to be estimated at around 10% to 15%. However, despite its high rate of prevalence, there is still a great deal of stigma surrounding the condition. From tomorrow, we mark IBS Awareness Month which aims to raise awareness of the condition and its impact on patients.

In this blog, we look at what IBS is, the symptoms it presents, and some of the main myths surrounding the condition.

What is IBS?

IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is type of bowel condition that causes recurring abdominal issues. It is caused by disorders between the brain and the gut, leading to a sensitive digestive system. The disorders can also change how the muscles of the bowel contract.

Common symptoms of IBS include:

  • Abdominal bloating, cramping, or pain
  • Changes in the appearance of your bowel movements
  • Changes in bowel habits

There is no cure for the condition, but there are treatments available that can help manage these symptoms. Unfortunately, as IBS isn’t life threatening, it is often treated as a non-serious condition, despite the significant negative impact it can have on a patient’s life.

What are some common myths surrounding IBS?

Despite how common IBS is, very few fully understand the condition. There are a lot of myths circulating that can prevent people from seeking a diagnosis. Below, we reveal the truth behind some of the most common IBS myths.

Myth #1: IBS doesn’t affect many people

IBS is a lot more common than you might think. It is estimated that 1 in 7 people globally have the condition. It is difficult to know exactly how many people suffer with IBS as many don’t report their symptoms. This is often down to embarrassment, or they have tried to talk to their doctor before and their concerns have been dismissed.

Myth #2: IBS affects everyone equally

Though men do develop IBS, it is much more prevalent in women. Currently, experts aren’t sure why women develop more gastrointestinal disorders. However, it is thought that changes within the brain may have something to do with it.

Myth #3: IBS is just caused by a bad diet

The cause of IBS isn’t known, but it is thought to triggered by a wide range of factors. A poor diet can aggravate the symptoms, but it isn’t known to directly cause the condition. Some factors associated with IBS include stress, visceral hypersensitivity, intestinal inflammation, and changes in gastrointestinal motility.

Myth #4 IBS is all in the mind

IBS is not all in the mind. It is not a psychiatric nor even psychosomatic disease. It is an intrinsic disease of the gut itself causing pain. That said in about 1 in 5 stress can be a trigger for symptoms.

These are just some of the most common myths you will likely come across when looking into IBS. The truth is the condition can have a detrimental impact on quality of life. The symptoms vary in severity between patients, with some unable to lead a normal life.

If you think you might be suffering with IBS, seeking a diagnosis and early treatment plan can help to keep the symptoms under control.