Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is one of those health conditions that can be difficult to talk about. And when you're struggling with things like diarrhea, constipation, gas, and bloating, that's completely understandable. But there are still things doctors want you to know about IBS, including the fact it's not as uncommon as it may seem.
In fact, IBS and all its uncomfortable symptoms, affect between 25 to 45 million Americans of all ages. And two out of every three of those people are women. So if you've got it, there's a good chance you know someone else who does, too.
That doesn't, however, automatically make things easier. "IBS has a huge impact on my patients' lives," Natasha Bhuyan, MD, of One Medical, tells Bustle. "Some patients will experience cramping or bloating. Others will feel a sense of urgency to use the restroom and can have alternating loose stools or constipation. Some of my patients fear going out for too long, as they aren't sure when a flare will strike." And it can all add up to create a situation that's incredibly tough to deal with.
"Luckily, there are several great ways to manage IBS," Dr. Bhuyan says, including eating foods that are easier to digest, managing stress, and even going to therapy. Read on below for a few more things doctors want you to know about IBS, so you can find ways to feel better.