Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects 1 in every ten people, and yet so many of us have no idea what it’s all about. People tend to suffer quietly because of the stigma around anything with the word “bowels” in the title.
Let’s just say that the world can be pretty darn immature.
But we’re here to dispel some rumors and discuss the truth behind this common gastrointestinal issue.
1. IBS and IBD are not the same thing.
IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) are often confused for one another. They both have “bowel” in the title, right? Well, IBS is more general and can be quite mild (depending on the patient), while IBD is more severe and specific. The two most common types of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
2. Nobody knows the true “cause” of IBS.
It’s hard to define what causes IBS, but there are ways to monitor it. Generally, one has to take note of which foods are triggering for their gut. People with IBS also need to track their stress levels due to the natural ties between the gut to the brain.
3. IBS is significantly more common in women than men.
Two out of every three IBS sufferers happen to be women. Maybe it’s from the stress of having to deal with the patriarchy all the time. Just a thought.
4. There are 3 types of IBS.
The three categories are IBS-D, IBS-C, and IBS-M.
5. IBS-D can be… messy.
IBS-D stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Diarrhea as the main symptom. One may find loose stools more than 25% of the time if they’re in this category.
6. IBS-C can stop you in your tracks.
Of course, this would mean that IBS-C is Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation. People who have this report having stomach pains, bloating, gas, straining, and going long periods of time between bowel movements.
7. Some people have a mix of both symptoms.
When one flips between diarrhea and constipation more than 25% of the time, then this may be considered IBS-M. Some doctors also refer to this as IBS-A for alternating bowels.
8. Unfortunately, it can be pretty unpredictable.
You never know when symptoms might flare up. Basically, it can happen at any time.
9. No, a person with IBS does not smell like poop.
I can’t believe I even need to address this, but I’ve found an unsettling amount of people actually believe they will be able to smell somebody with IBS. I mean, really guys?
10. Most people with IBS are under the age of 50.
Not to say it never affects the older crowd, but generally, it affects people between the ages of 18-50.
11. Everybody is affected differently.
This disease can be anything from a mild inconvenience to a severe debilitation. It’s simply not the same for everybody. People with moderate to severe IBS often struggle with symptoms that impair their well-being.
12. “If you cut out gluten/dairy, it will go away because this worked for my friend/aunt/etc..” is nonsense.
Some people have a gluten intolerance and others may be lactose intolerant. However, these two things do not necessarily coincide with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This is not a magical cure for every person with IBS.
13. You’ll recall it used to have a very different name.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome used to be called ‘Spastic Colon’, but doctors eventually felt this term was not inclusive enough of the general gut-related issues people were having. It might be convenient to call IBS-D ‘spastic’ but not IBS-C, you know?
14. You don’t suffer alone.
In the United States, statistics range from 25 million to 45 million people suffering from a form of IBS at some point in their life. If you have been having gut problems recently, consider visiting a health care professional. Also, it’s generally good to eat or drink more foods with plenty of probiotics as well.