1-7April is IBS Awareness Month. It is estimated that one in seven suffer of us in the US from IBS, many are unaware of the symptoms and signs of the disorder. Luckily, IBS has not been shown to lead to more serious diseases, but that does not mean it is pleasant to live with it. There are other, serious conditions that share some of the same symptoms so it is critical that you see your healthcare professional for the proper diagnosis.

Symptoms of IBS include cramping, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation and are extremely uncomfortable to deal with or even talk about. All these painful symptoms make Irritable Bowel Syndrome one of the top reasons people visit their doctors. Many people, however, never see a doctor about it, as their symptoms are so mild. Those that do not visit their doctor may be missing out on simple fixes to help them manage their IBS.

It is unknown what the real causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome are, but there are believed to be several. Certain foods can set it off, as well as some medications. Your healthcare provider can help identify what the causes may be in your dietary habits, and help suggest certain foods to stay away from or eat more of to help reduce the severity of your symptoms. Some people’s IBS is triggered by a lack of exercise, or even an increase in stress, so it is important to ask for all the steps you can take to help manage it. For more serious cases of IBS there are medications to help living with the condition more manageable.

Women are more susceptible to IBS, as well as those with anxiety, depression, or a family history of IBS. It is a long-term condition, and there is no real cure, but with the right education, treatment and lifestyle choices it can be managed, and you can lead a productive life with little interference from IBS.