If you’re looking for something to talk about this April, why don’t you start talking about an important health matter that affects millions? April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month, and it’s time to bring more attention to this debilitating health condition. Although doctors don’t fully understand the cause of IBS, it is a recognized medical issue that affects the bowels and digestive system, and doctors are able to prescribe certain medications and lifestyle changes to help manage the symptoms.

How Can I Start The Conversation About IBS?

The best way to start talking about IBS is to try and understand exactly what it is and why it can be a challenge to live with. Generally speaking, IBS refers to symptoms that are persistent for at least six months. The symptoms revolve around abdominal pain and discomfort as well as a change in bowel habits, like diarrhea and constipation. It also typically includes bloating, mucus in the stool, and an urgent need to use the bathroom. The actual cause of IBS isn’t fully understood, but it can relate to genetics or prior infection and has a tendency to get worse due to certain triggers like eating, stress, menstrual periods, or GI infections. If all of this sounds familiar, it might be time to call Carolina Digestive to discuss your options for treatment and management of your condition. One of the easiest places to start to help yourself feel better is through lifestyle changes. Start a food diary to determine if certain foods set off your symptoms and learn how to best manage your eating habits. Exercise and proper sleep can also help. If lifestyle changes don’t do the trick, you may be a candidate for certain medications.

How can I participate in IBS Awareness Month?

Most importantly, you can seek out a diagnosis if you are suffering and haven’t seen a doctor yet. Make an appointment at Carolina Digestive to start that process. If you are already living with IBS, have a friend or family member who is, or just want to get the word out, the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders has many resources available, including Facebook and Twitter discussions, press releases, downloadable materials, and contact information for local officials to advocate for digestive health.