Did you know that 1 in 7 people worldwide struggle with IBS, otherwise known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. April is IBS Awareness month and at McDaniel Nutrition our team of dietitians help support individuals with this diagnosis almost everyday. 

As a widely misunderstood condition it can be confusing and frustrating to find the proper support, education and treatments for those in need. Today 25-40 million Americans are living with this condition. It’s our duty to learn how we can best support our family members and friends by getting the facts straight and becoming a more reliant support system.

Myth 1: Everyone with IBS has the same symptoms and experience with their diagnosis. 

Fact: Even individuals with similar subtypes of IBS, no one journey is the same. There are three main types of IBS, classified as IBS-C for constipated individuals, IBS-D for individuals who experience frequent bouts of diarrhea, or IBS-M for those who have mixed bowel experiences. Regardless of subtype, people experience different bouts, severity and triggers. Whether your flare up lasts for a few hours or a few months, your individual experience is unique. 

Myth 2: Getting an IBS diagnosis is quick and easy

Fact: IBS is one of the most difficult conditions to get an accurate diagnosis for. In comparison to other gastrointestinal based conditions, IBS is a functional disorder which makes it complicated to identify. If you look at the gut of a person with IBS and a person without under a microscope it’s difficult to identify the differences, thus it takes a lot of time and effort to find the root cause and give a proper diagnosis. On average it can take up to 6 years for an official diagnosis, since there is not yet a definitive test for IBS. Advocating for yourself with your primary or GI doctor is one of the best ways to speak your truth and get the proper treatment you need. 

Myth 3: IBS doesn’t affect your day to day life 

Fact: Living with IBS dramatically impacts individuals day to day lives. Socialization, work life and eating are three of the biggest struggles. When flare ups occur it can be a debilitating sense of pain and discomfort. 

Myth 4: IBS is caused by a poor diet and lifestyle choices

Fact: There is no known cause for why IBS impacts people. Research has pinpointed on a few common developments over the years including; altered gut motility, visceral hypersensitivity, post infection reactions, brain gut interactions, imbalanced gut microbiome, alterations in fecal matter and bacterial overgrowth, food sensitivities and intolerances, inflammation and stress. 

Myth 5: There is no cure for IBS

Fact: Similar to the fact that no one with IBS has similar symptoms and experiences, each person’s response to treatment varies. While there is no cure-all, there are many treatment approaches to minimize the impact of IBS. Starting off by following a low FODMAP diet is one way to identify common triggers, hypnotherapy is another common approach as well as medication. 

Gut related disorders such as IBS are on the rise. By being an educated advocate for those struggling, you can better support and end the stigma associated with these conditions. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance with your IBS support, the team of dietitians at McDaniel Nutrition Therapy are well versed in many nutrition-based approaches to support those in need.