Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a functional bowel disorder, meaning that it is a disorder of the gut-brain interaction. There are no structural abnormalities that would show up on a scope, X-ray, or in blood tests, but there are functional abnormalities or impairments in how the gut moves and works, resulting in symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating (feeling like there is an inflated balloon in the abdomen), distension (a visible increase in abdominal girth), and altered bowel movements.
IBS is thought to affect between 7 and 15% of the population, and is more common in women. What can be tricky to manage with IBS is the fluctuation of symptom severity from day to day, often leading to frustration and fear when it comes to food and bowel patterns. This has a huge impact on quality of life for individuals struggling with IBS and can result in many consequences, including withdrawing from social activities, increased anxiety and a decrease in productivity.
If you haven’t already, check out Part 1 of the series: