This resource was made possible due to an unrestricted educational grant from Nestle Health Science, makers of IBgard.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common chronic gastrointestinal disorder that involves problems with motility (how the bowel moves contents through our intestines) and sensitivity (how the brain interprets sensations in the bowel) leading to abdominal pain, changes in bowel patterns and other symptoms. Although often disruptive, debilitating and embarrassing, it may be some comfort to know that IBS is not life-threatening, nor does it lead to cancer or other more serious illnesses.
Recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort 1 days/month in the past 3 months associated with two or more of the following:
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is thought to affect up to 18% of the Canadian population – having one of the highest prevalence of IBS in the world (1). IBS affects significantly more women than men and is one of the most common causes for work and school absenteeism. While IBS does not cause any permanent damage to the bowel or lead to cancer or any other major illnesses, living with IBS is painful, and puts a great deal of stress on people who suffer symptoms. The good news is, that even though IBS is a chronic and long term condition, it is manageable over time. The symptoms of IBS typically do not get worse, and with an effective treatment plan, as many as one-third of IBS patients may eventually become symptom-free.
Often, symptoms alone can provide doctors with the information they need to diagnose IBS. Your doctor will perform a physical examination and take a complete medical history that includes a careful review of your symptoms. For this reason, it is important to be candid and specific with your doctor about the problems you are having. A set of specific symptom criteria (referred to by physicians as the Rome Criteria) has been developed to help physicians diagnose IBS. The Rome Criteria is as follows:
In May 2016, the Rome Foundation released the new Rome IV criteria for diagnosing IBS. All around the world, physicians follow this organization’s lead when diagnosing IBS.
According to the Rome IV diagnostic criteria, IBS is characterised by recurrent abdominal pain for, on average, at least one day per week in the last three months, associated with two or more of the following:
Everyone is different. So are your poops. It’s important to note that the change in your stool could be constipation for some people, diarrhea for others, or alternate between the two. Subtypes of IBS are recognized by the Rome IV criteria based on the person’s reported predominant bowel habit, when not on medications, as follows:
If you’re anything like us and skipped right to the part of the post where we tell you how to fix it, we mentioned above that IBS is manageable, and there are many different ways that it can be treated.
Often diet and lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on gut health. Getting exercise and participating in managing stress through activities such as yoga or meditation can have a huge impact on a patient’s quality of life.
Food intolerances have been linked to IBS symptoms for many years, however conflicting information often creates confusion and frustration as to what foods IBS patients should include, or avoid, in their diet. Recent research has identified key strategies for the successful dietary management of IBS.
IBS can be stressful as you struggle each day to manage your symptoms, so be sure to ask for help if you’re feeling mentally bogged down and lean on your personal support systems when you need them. Remember, you can do this!