Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects nearly one in five Australians and overwhelmingly impacts more women than men, with two out of three sufferers being female. Despite the prevalence of the condition, many suffer for years without proper diagnosis and treatment.
Zack Irani is the CEO of Biomerica, a global biomedical company who is about to begin clinical trials for a diagnostic therapy tool that will be able to identify patient specific foods for IBS sufferers to avoid to relieve painful symptoms. Symptoms so debilitating that some sufferers would give up Wi-Fi, sex and coffee to live a month without them, according to a survey from the American Gastroenterological Association. He's shared the top five reasons why IBS is so often overlooked.
IBS symptoms tend to change in terms of severity, making it difficult to determine if one’s discomfort is temporary or something more serious.
IBS patients try to wait and see if symptom servility diminishes or will try to avoid treatment for as long as they can.
Because IBS symptoms are related to bowel issues, many people are uncomfortable speaking openly about them. It interferes with functions that people want to keep private, and that most of us take for granted, therefore there is a stigma inherently associated with IBS by the name itself (irritable bowel syndrome), causing many sufferers to be known as “silent sufferers” as they don’t wish to share their condition with other people.
IBS symptoms mimic many other gastrointestinal conditions and diseases, which can lead to missed or incorrect diagnosis by healthcare providers. Many people with IBS will often go several years before seeking help from a GI doctor and getting a diagnoses. Since IBS does not cause damage to the inside of the GI tract that can be viewed (e.g. endoscopy or scan) there is no test (including blood tests) to diagnosis IBS. In a survey by the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, they found that on average patients wait nearly six years to get an official diagnosis from the time that their symptoms begin.
There is a general lack of awareness of IBS and its effects on the body which can further complicates diagnosing the condition. Because of this, it’s important to see a good gastroenterologist, rather than just one’s general physician, to make an accurate determination.