Who Gets IBS?

So who gets IBS? Well, I know I have it. And you are pretty sure you have it. But since it is a disorder that is not really discussed, even among the closest of friends, and certainly not at a dinner party, it would be nice to know we are not alone, right?

Well, unbelievably, you and I are not alone. In fact, we are joined by many. One in five of us, or up to 20% of us, have experienced IBS. This does not even count the number of people who also have the more serious Infammatory Bowel Disease , such as Colitis, Crohn's disease and diverticulitis, which all have similar symptoms to IBS.

So look around that dinner party, and know that even though it is not necessarily socially acceptable to discuss it, you are certainly not alone with your digestive problems.

Women vs. Men

Most likely, the person who gets IBS, will be female. The diagnosis in women tends to be double that of men, with women representing around 70 percent of those being diagnosed. There is no way of knowing, however, if this is just because men are less likely to go to the doctor with embarrassing complaints of gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. I do not believe men have a higher pain threshold, as is suggested in some studies. I do believe though, that since women have so many valuable and important organs all tucked away neatly inside their abdomen, then the pain, gas and bloating from IBS can have more of an affect on women, causing them to seek help for their symptoms. In fact, in children who get IBS, there are actually equal amounts of boys and girls diagnosed, leading me to believe that the men do have it, it is just not something they pursue with their doctor.

Women also tend to be at the doctor on a more regular basis for their annual gynecological exam, so the symptoms may be brought up more frequently to doctors, which can lead to a referral to a gastroenterogist.

Kids and IBS

Children can also be among those who get IBS, so do not be too quick to dismiss when he or she has continuous complaints of a 'stomach ache'. My son had complained of stomach fullness and nausea for some time. Fortunately, I already have the resources from my own experience to help him manage these symptoms.

There has been a lot written on children with special needs and their problems with digestion. While most books written about this do not specifically call the digestive problems IBS, it seems to be quite common for kids with autism, aspergers, cerebal palsy, and other brain disorders to also have digestive difficulties.

Those with other Diagnoses

It is interesting to note that a person diagnosed with a completely different condition may be someone who gets IBS. Fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis (a bladder condition), dysautonomia (a disorder of the nervous system) and anxiety and depression, are all disorders that can all have symptoms of IBS along with their original diagnosis.

So please keep in mind when you are suffering on your worst days with IBS, that your family doctor and gastroenterologist's office will be filled with people today with the same digestive problems as you and I.

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