April Is IBS Awareness Month: IFFGD Offers Information and Support to Those Affected by Irritable Bowel Syndrome

For Immediate Release

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MILWAUKEE (April 2, 2002) - The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) today announced the launch of the Fifth Annual Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects more than 30 million men, women and children – approximately 10-20 percent of the U.S. population. IBS is the most common disease diagnosed by gastroenterologists and is a leading cause of absenteeism from work. Healthcare costs associated with IBS are more than $25 billion annually. To help sufferers understand IBS, the IFFGD is offering free information and support through a toll free hotline -- 1-888-964-2001, or their Web site – www.aboutibs.org.

IBS is a disturbance in the regulation of colon function that results in unusual sensitivity and muscle activity. The disease is characterized by abdominal pain or discomfort and abnormal bowel function, which may include chronic diarrhea, chronic constipation, or an alternating pattern of both. Patients may feel a sensation of not being able to fully empty their bowels. Other symptoms may include gas and bloating, as well as nausea.

"Almost everyone experiences an occasional bout with abdominal pain and diarrhea or constipation," said Nancy Norton, President of IFFGD. "However, when these symptoms are chronic or recurring, or when they interrupt daily activities, they may signal IBS."

IBS severely impacts a person's quality of life. The unpredictable nature of the disease can be debilitating and it is frequently difficult to ease the pain that may repeatedly occur throughout the day.

One becomes reluctant to eat for the fear that a meal will trigger symptoms. Many sufferers become anxious about leaving their homes. They become afraid to switch jobs, go to a restaurant, travel or have almost any type of social life because they are worried they will not have a bathroom available.

"The human impact of IBS is tremendous. Chronic and recurring symptoms of IBS can disrupt personal and professional activities, upset emotional well-being and limit individual potential," said Nancy Norton. "At this time, there is no cure for IBS. It is imperative that the best ways to manage and treat this disease are made available to patients so they can enjoy a normal, healthy life."

Those experiencing symptoms of IBS are encouraged to call the IFFGD hotline at 1-888-964-2001 for more information and support. Active the entire year from 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM EST Monday-Friday, the staff is available to answer questions and provide membership literature and materials. Additionally, the IFFGD developed a Personal Daily Diary, which can help sufferers keep track of symptoms, factors that may be related to symptom onset and any medications being taken for IBS-related symptoms. The diary can serve as a valuable tool when discussing IBS with their physician. (Call IFFGD toll-free at 1-888-964-2001 to order a full print version of the Personal Daily Diary.) The key to successful diagnosis and treatment of IBS begins with education about the nature of the disorder. Less than half of those who suffer with IBS seek treatment advice from a physician.

The IFFGD is a nonprofit education and research organization whose mission it is to inform, assist and support those affected by gastrointestinal disorders. With an international group of experts from multiple disciplines who serve on the organization's medical advisory board, the IFFGD is a resource for anyone seeking increased knowledge about gastrointestinal disorders for both adults and children. For more information call 1-888-964-2001 or visit the IFFGD Web site at www.iffgd.org or www.aboutibs.org.

SOURCE: International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders