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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (“IBS”) is the most common cause of abdominal pain in our country.  Here are some points about IBS:

  • IBS affects between 25 and 45 million people in the United States. About 2 in 3 IBS sufferers are female. IBS affects people of all ages, even children. 
  • Worldwide it’s estimated that 10-15% of the population has IBS. 
  • Most persons with IBS are under the age of 50. But many older adults suffer as well. 
  • The exact cause of IBS is not known. Symptoms may result from a disturbance in the way the gut, brain, and nervous system interact. This can cause changes in normal bowel movement and sensation. 
  • Stress does not cause IBS. However, because of the connection between the brain and the gut, stress can worsen or trigger symptoms. 
  • The impact of IBS can range from mild inconvenience to severe debilitation. It can control many aspects of a person’s emotional, social and professional life. Persons with moderate to severe IBS must struggle with symptoms that often impair their physical, emotional, economic, educational and social well-being. 
  • IBS is unpredictable. Symptoms vary and are sometimes contradictory. Diarrhea can alternate with constipation. Long-term symptoms can disrupt personal and professional activities, and limit individual potential. 
  • Treatments are available for IBS to help manage symptoms. Not all treatments work for all people. Through research, better treatments may be found. Although IBS is common in the general population, few seek medical care for their symptoms.

People with IBS tend to feel frustrated with the medical system because often they are made to feel the problem is “in their head” because all of the tests done (endoscopy, colonoscopy, ultrasound, CT scan) come back with “normal” results.

Studies specifically looking at the association of obesity and IBS do not show that poor weight control causes IBS.  However, those people with IBS that are obese tend to have much worse symptoms of this disease.

If you are suffering from IBS symptoms, here is yet another reason to remain focused on your weight loss efforts: The IBS may respond better to weight loss than the myriad of medications that have been prescribed to you.