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Digestive Health and Wellness

Raising Awareness for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Hayley McCorkle

Public Relations Coordinator, International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD)

As many as 45 million American have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Although IBS is common, patients are often stigmatized and misunderstood, and their symptoms have a significant impact on their quality of life. 

In April, the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) joined patients, family members, and caregivers to increase public awareness about IBS, and to help educate the public. The theme for IBS Awareness Month 2021 was “Educating about IBS,” and the hashtags being used on social media are #IBSAwarenenssMonth and #IBSEducation. 

“We live in a world where many of us turn to social media for answers and support when we are suffering from any illness,” said IFFGD president Ceciel T. Rooker. “For those living with a chronic GI disorder, such as IBS, the need for reliable educational materials and information is extremely important. Educating the ones around us is just the first step to increase public awareness so that the needs of the patient community can be met.”

Symptoms associated with IBS can flare up unexpectedly and change over time, even day to day. IBS is characterized by the following:

  • Recurring or chronic bouts of abdominal pain or discomfort 
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort associated with a change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation 
  • Bloating, gas, urgency, or other symptoms may also occur. 

IBS awareness

In 1997, IFFGD designated April as IBS Awareness Month. During this time, IFFGD focuses on important health messages about IBS diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life issues. IFFGD invites everyone to join its campaign by visiting the newly updated IBS website, which went live on April 1. You can also join IFFGD’s awareness campaign by downloading and sharing information in the IBS Awareness Month Media Toolkit, which provides key messaging and images.

This awareness campaign is designed to generate a conversation about IBS, share reliable information and resources, and raise awareness about this condition. Encouraging this discussion will help to improve the quality of life for the millions of people living with this GI condition. 

“By joining together to educate individuals in our communities, we are not only supporting those who suffer from the impacts of IBS, but we also bring hope for the future,” Rooker said.

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