What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common functional gastrointestinal syndrome in the U.S. It is estimated that up to 45 million people, or 10-15% of the American population, suffer from IBS. About 2 in 3 IBS sufferers are female, while about 1 in 3 IBS sufferers are male. IBS affects people of all ages, including children. There are three primary types of IBS: IBS with constipation predominance (IBS-C), IBS with diarrhea predominance (IBS-D), and mixed IBS (IBS-M), which presents as an alternating pattern of constipation and diarrhea. Some patients don’t fit into these categories easily, and may be referred to as un-subtyped IBS, or IBS-U. Historically, before the development of IBSchek™, a proprietary blood test to diagnose IBS, it would take patients approximately 4-6 years to receive a diagnosis of IBS, usually after undergoing a variety of costly and invasive diagnostic procedures.
The symptoms of IBS include:
• Constipation alternating with diarrhea
• Abdominal bloating
• Belly pains or cramps, usually in the lower half of the belly, that get worse after meals and feel better after a bowel movement
• Change in bowel movement frequency (more than three bowel movements per day (diarrhea or loose stool) or less than three bowel movements per week (constipation))
• Change in appearance of stool: hard, pellets, not well formed, undigested food, liquid, mucus
• Harder or looser stools than normal (pellets or flat ribbon stools)
• Digestive issues beginning after an episode of gastroenteritis more commonly known as food poisoning
IBS is often, but not always, associated with another condition called small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, often referred to as SIBO, has been widely studied as an underlying cause of the irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) phenotype. This overview of SIBO as it relates to IBS may help you decide if this is something about which you should speak to your doctor.