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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a Common but Uncommon Disorder

By Obiniyi Triumph

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common but often misunderstood condition that affects up to 5-10 per cent individuals worldwide, making it one of the most common gastrointestinal (GIT) disorder. So what is IBS?

IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder. Specifically, it is an intestinal disorder causing cramping, stomach pain, wind, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation and bloating.

The severity of its symptoms vary from person to person and they change overtime as there are different types of this illness. Noteworthy is the fact that this condition does not structural damage the GIT however, the bowel isn’t working properly.

The most common symptom of the IBS, abdominal pain, can range from mild to severe over time. People with this disorder often describe the pain as cramping, bloating or feeling full without necessarily eating anything.

Other symptoms people living with IBS may experience is change in bowel habits for example going to the toilet more than normal, unable to hold bodily wastes for a period of time, constipation or diarrhea or a mix of both and this can have a great impact on one’s daily living, self-esteem and work-life relationship.

There is medical professionals currently battle to understand the cause of this disorder, there has been no known cure however, there are certain things one can do to manage it.

Some of the management practice for IBS patients is dietary regulation as certain foods can cause more harm than good to them.

Increased fiber rich meal intake, fruit consumption, drinking plenty of fluids to free the bowel, and limiting triggering foods like milk, foods high in fructose, carbonated beverages, and caffeine amongst others have been found to be effective.

Some medications have also been prescribed by professionals for treatment. Some include, antispasmodic (to help relieve cramps or spasm of the stomach, intestine and bladder), laxatives (helps empty the bowels), tricyclic antidepressants (to manage depression as it is common among patients) and among others.

Natural treatments like exercise and stress management have also proved effective though, treatments vary from person to person based on individual symptoms and best option is selected by a physician.

This illness is a common but uncommon illness because as frequent as it occurs, people are not fully aware of what it is therefore, those who suffer such illnesses are often isolated and ostracised from the society because most people cannot relate or are ignorant of such disorder.

Thankfully with the advent of technology and current effort to uphold telemedicine, effort have been made through social and print media to provide succor for those bedeviled with IBS.

However, a huge number of people lack access to the aforementioned media thus, enlightenment should come in through well established help centers and safe spaces for the sick, support groups, and therapy sessions due to trauma that is associated with the disorder springing from stigmatisation.

Proper education to create awareness for the people living with IBS and those free of it, to help reduce stigmas could be championed through a variety of channels like schools, workplaces, other healthcare centers, through posters and other means.

Lastly, Persons living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (PLIBS) should not be treated differently and should be given a safe space to share and communicate how they feel while living with such illness so as to feel more comfortable. This will help them go through with all sorts of treatments without having to think about the next persons thoughts are

IBS can be a chronic condition that tends to flare up when not treated properly so, let’s join hands to create a better and healthier society.

Obiniyi Triumph, a 200-Level Mass Communication Student, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria writes via: [email protected]