Clear as Mud: What is IBS?
April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome month and if you are one of the 13-20% of Canadians who suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), you understand just how dysfunctional this disorder can be! And unfortunately, only 40% of Canadians with IBS seek medical attention - that’s a lot of people trying to navigate this complicated disorder on their own. So hopefully this post will shed some light on what IBS is. And then next week we will talk about how to manage the symptoms of IBS through nutrition.
The standard diagnostic tool for IBS is the Rome IV criteria, which are as follows:
“Recurrent abdominal pain at least 1 day per week in the last 3 months on average, associated with two or more of the following:
Related to defecation (either increasing or improving pain)
Associated with a change in stool frequency
Associated with a change in stool form (appearance)
*Criterion fulfilled for the last 3 months with symptom onset at least 6 months prior to diagnosis.”
In a nutshell, IBS is a functional disorder. Meaning, there is nothing structurally wrong with the gut, unlike in Celiac Disease or in Crohn’s Disease. Individuals with IBS typically have a sensitive digestive system with heightened reactivity, which causes the bowel to respond differently to normal gut stimuli. Although each person has a unique IBS experience, the common symptoms are: abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea.
Think you might have IBS?
Your next steps are to book an appointment with your family physician to rule out all other potential causes of GI distress, including Celiac Disease or Crohn’s Disease. Then stay-tuned for next week when we talk about how to manage IBS symptoms through nutrition.
If you have IBS and need some nutritional guidance, contact me for more information about my one-on-one consultations.
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