Most people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) suffer symptoms for at least a year before seeking medical attention. Many others say they never know if they will experience symptoms on a given day.
Those are some of the findings from an American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) survey. It looked at more than 3,200 patients and 300 physicians.
- The survey also found that both IBS patients with constipation (IBS-C) and IBS patients with diarrhea (IBS-D) experience abdominal pain and symptoms that wreak havoc with their day-to-day lives. But they do this in different ways.
- Patients with IBS-C are more likely to self-medicate with over-the-counter products. They are also more likely to feel depressed or helpless about their condition. And they typically feel self-conscious about their appearance.
- People with IBS-D are more likely to avoid situations where they won’t be able to access a bathroom. They also have difficulty planning their day. This is because of their inability to predict a flare-up of symptoms.
The AGA recommends that you seek medical help early rather than living with pain and discomfort. You should have a detailed discussion with your doctor about your symptoms and what you’ve done to address them. You should keep seeking help from a doctor if your symptoms don’t respond to treatment.