Irritable Bowel Syndrome Figures & Research
by Contributing Writer
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder that can produce constipation, diarrhea, bloating, cramping, and flatulence. Its cause is not known, and the syndrome appears to be highly idiopathic with patients experiencing different disease progression and benefiting from different treatments.
There are four subtypes of IBS: IBS-D (predominantly diarrhea), IBS-C (predominantly constipation), IBS-A (alternating diarrhea and constipation), and IBS-M (mixed constipation and diarrhea). According to Dr. Jenifer Lehrer of Jefferson Health System, Philadelphia, Penn., 75 percent of patients will change subtypes within a year of diagnosis, and 29 percent of patients alternate between IBS-D and IBS-C.
Dr. Lehrer also states that an estimated 10 to 20 percent of the population has IBS, but only 10 to 20 percent of sufferers seek help from a physician for the problem.
In Europe and North America, women are two to three times more likely to have Irritable Bowel Syndrome than men. In India, however, 70 to 80 percent of IBS patients are male.
Approximately 50 percent of IBS sufferers experienced symptoms prior to age 35, with some patients noting that they had abdominal pain and abnormal bowel habits as children or adolescents.
It is difficult to treat IBS, as 40 to 70 percent of patients experience improvement when taking a placebo. Fiber supplements may be initially recommended for all subtypes of IBS. The herbal supplement Iberogast has also been found to alleviate symptoms in a double-blind study.