IBS in America: The Conversation.

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Thank you, American Gastroenterological Association for sponsoring this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. All experiences belong to my loved ones, and are not representative of everyone’s experience. I want to spread awareness.

Think about this. IBS is a chronic condition that affects nearly 35 MILLION people in the United States alone. Misinformation and self-treatment cycles are leading people to suffer with IBS for years, or even decades, before finally seeing a doctor.

People haven’t been talking about it enough. Until now.

On December 17th, there was a webcast about “IBS in America” live on Flash and Mobile. There was a panel discussion on survey results, from the most comprehensive IBS survey ever done, and it was followed by a live Q & A session. Although the webcast has passed, it has been archived and can still be viewed HERE. I watched the webcast with interest, as they had incredible support and information about IBS, and got questions about people’s reluctance to discuss their bowel movements, how treatments and diagnoses can differ, and whether there are studies being done, and advancements being made.

With 35 million people being impacted, it’s time to speak up:

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I remember the first time I heard about IBS, because I had both an Aunt and a close friend with the chronic condition. I didn’t understand a lot about it, and I feared that maybe I had it or would have it someday since I tend to have a nervous stomach. I know now that my symptoms had nothing to do with the bowels and were nauseous feelings related to anxiety. It took me a long time to see a doctor about my symptoms, so I can understand the reluctance that IBS sufferers have to discuss their bowel movements with their doctors. When they do, though, they can find relief and support – both a long time coming.

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My Aunt DOES see a doctor and does find relief to live her life as best as possible.

The “IBS in America” survey is the most comprehensive IBS survey of both patients and physicians EVER conducted. It polled more than 3,200 IBS sufferers and 300 physicians in an effort to better understand IBS. The survey demonstrated that the symptoms of IBS can interfere with daily life at home, work and school, with bothersome and unpredictable symptoms. Many people suffer for years, or decades, before seeing a doctor. The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) suggests that people can do three things to help their doctor manage their IBS – Speak Up Early, Completely And Often.

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With these open and honest conversations, with feedback, doctors are more likely to be able to help their patients navigate their own IBS treatment paths. In the webcast, the doctor discussed how people take advice from their families and friends, and follow advice they are given, nine times out of ten. There are different forms of IBS with different treatments. Self-treating and self-managing does not lead to relief most of the time. Now that it’s time for the new year, it’s time stop suffering in silence. Make a resolution to take care of your GI health in the new year. Follow the #IBSInAmerica conversation.

IBS has a strong physical, social and emotional impact, and there’s a great need for better communication between doctors and patients. The holidays, and a lot of winter really, tend to be times of overindulgence. You might be more aware than ever of your gut after enjoying a large meal or rich foods. For the nearly 35 million Americans who suffer from IBS, those feelings of abdominal pain and discomfort, including constipation or diarrhea, are persistent throughout the year. The survey found that a majority of IBS sufferers (67%) responding to the survey reported experiencing abdominal and bowel symptoms for more than a year before talking to a doctor, while some (11%) waited a decade or more. Abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea are recurring symptoms that can impact people physically, emotionally and socially. Symptoms can be so bothersome that survey respondents would give up caffeine (55%), phone/internet (47%), or even sex (40%) for one month if it brought relief. 65% of respondents reported feeling satisfied with the care they received after speaking with their doctors. That’s powerful.

Can you relate to recurring abdominal or bowel symptoms? Make a resolution for 2016 to take care of your GI health and break the cycle of silence. You are not alone! Speak up early, completely and often, and join the #IBSInAmerica conversation.

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While all experiences and opinions are my own, this post is sponsored by the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), which commissioned the “IBS in America” survey, the most comprehensive IBS survey of both patients and physicians ever conducted, polling more than 3,200 sufferers and 300 physicians to better understand this condition, with the financial support of Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Allergan plc. For full survey results, visit http://bit.ly/1LwtDgp.

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