Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders that physicians see. Yet until recently, it was also one of the least talked about conditions. IBS is characterized by abdominal pain or cramping and changes in bowel function — including bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation — not something most people like to discuss. What’s more, for many years IBS was considered a psychological rather than a physical problem.
An estimated 35 million Americans have irritable bowel syndrome. It ranks second only to the common cold as a cause of lost work time and accounts for about 3 million physician visits in the United States every year.
Fortunately, unlike more serious intestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, IBS doesn’t cause inflammation or changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer.