"As a doctor, I want patients to have open conversations with me about any symptoms they may experience without feeling uncomfortable," said Dr. Howard Franklin, MBA, vice president of medical affairs and strategy at Salix Pharmaceuticals. "But, I understand that patients may sometimes choose not to talk about symptoms they find embarrassing."
Such is the case when it comes to discussing bowel movements. For people who experience abdominal pain and diarrhea, it is important to discuss these symptoms with your doctor as they may be signs of irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea (IBS-D).
A report published by the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that up to 75 percent of individuals living with irritable bowel syndrome may be undiagnosed. You are not alone.
For the up to 16 million Americans living with IBS-D, it is often an uncomfortable disorder that can reduce a patient’s quality of life. IBS-D affects twice as many women as men and often occurs in people younger than 45. It can cause interference with daily activities and avoidance of certain foods.
If you’ve experienced these symptoms, Franklin offers two important steps you can take.
Understand the disorder
IBS-D is a disorder of the large intestine and though the precise cause is unknown, it is believed that there are various factors that can play a role in creating symptoms. Stronger, longer muscle contractions in the intestines and poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines are all possible causes for IBS-D. Often, IBS-D is triggered by food, caffeine, stress, carbonated drinks, artificial sugars or infectious diarrhea.
Changes in bacteria in the gut have also been linked to symptoms of IBS-D. In a healthy state, the microbiome and the human host have a mutually beneficial relationship as the host intestine provides the bacteria with an environment to flourish and the bacteria provides physiological stability. A change in the number of bacteria and in their type can disrupt this relationship.
Talk to your doctor
Don’t hesitate to initiate the conversation with your doctor if you experience symptoms of IBS-D.
It’s time to talk to your doctor if:
* Your abdominal pain keeps coming back at least one day per week in the last three months
* The frequency of your bowel movements, and/or the way your stool looks has changed
Here are a few ways you can prepare for a conversation with your doctor:
1. Write down your symptoms and triggers.
2. Make a list of all your medications.
3. Plan questions in advance, such as: What are the likely causes of my symptoms? Should I make any changes to my diet or lifestyle? What treatment options do you recommend for me?
There is no need to suffer with IBS-D in silence. Speak up to your doctor and, together, find ways to manage the disorder. For more information about IBS-D, visit www.LetsTalk-2.com.