America's Hidden Health Problem

For Immediate Release

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Milwaukee, WI (April 1998) - It's been cited as the second leading cause of worker absenteeism (second only to the common cold), causing serious discomfort for as many as 35 million Americans. It is one of the most common problems doctors see and affects young, middle-aged, and older adults. Yet, there is a general lack of awareness about Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, and the issues faced by people who are affected by the disorder. That is something the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) is working hard to change.

"For millions of Americans, IBS is serious enough to interfere with their careers, their social lives, and their families," said Dr. Douglas A. Drossman of the University of North Carolina, a leading expert on IBS and a member of the IFFGD's advisory board. "But because most of us find it difficult to talk about, lots of people have never heard of IBS, much less sought the help that is readily available. IBS really is 'America's hidden health problem.'"

What is IBS

"The term 'irritable bowel syndrome' is used to describe a group of chronic symptoms that occur together," said Dr. Drossman. "These symptoms can include abdominal pain, bloating, distension of the abdomen, constipation and/or diarrhea. Some people experience both constipation and diarrhea, just at different times.

"As serious as these symptoms can be, patients are relieved to learn that IBS is not a life-threatening disorder, nor is it an indication of something more serious," Dr. Drossman said. "It can often be treated very effectively with relatively simple interventions." IBS symptoms are often relieved by changes in diet - reducing caffeine, alcohol, beans and fatty foods, for example, and increasing high-fiber foods. Lifestyle changes, such as increased physical activity can also help.

But for some people, finding relief is more difficult. For those with more severe IBS, a number of other options are available to help manage symptoms.

To help inform the public about Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IFFGD has launched the National IBS Initiative, a series of public education seminars in major cities around the country where local physicians present a patient-oriented discussion of IBS symptoms and management/treatment options. IFFGD is a nonprofit education and research organization that addresses the issues surrounding life with functional gastrointestinal disorders, including IBS.

Learn More

Contact the Foundation to learn more about IBS.
Toll Free: 1-888-964-2001
Business: 1-414-964-1799

P.O. Box 170864
Milwaukee, WI 53217