IBS Support Groups

IBS Support Groups

IBS is a non-life threatening, non-progressing, functional bowel disorder of the gastrointestinal tract. Having IBS does not increase your chances of developing cancer or inflammatory bowel disease. This affects 10-20% of adults in the United States causing over 3 million visits to the doctor a year. It can affect anyone; however it is predominantly found in women. Its cause is unknown.

According to the Rome II Criteria, symptoms typical to IBS include: abnormal bowel movement frequency (over three times a day or fewer than three times a week), abnormal bowel movement form (hard lumpy pellets or loose watery stools), abnormal bowel movement passage (straining, incomplete passing feeling, and urgency), mucus passing, bloating, and abdominal distention. Symptoms not typical with IBS include: fever, weight loss, blood in stool, pain and/or diarrhea that wakes/interferes with sleep patterns. 

IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion and can take years to get. Normal organic reasons need to be disallowed before IBS becomes a factor in diagnosis.

Treatment for mild IBS include: stress management, change of diet, lifestyle changes; moderate IBS includes all of the mild treatments plus fiber supplements and OTC anticholinergics; severe IBS includes all of the mild and moderate treatments plus antidepressants. Zelnorm(r) is the only proven drug for IBS and over 60% of patients that have tried it have found relief.  Antidepressants used are typically Elavil(r), Pamelor(r) and Norpramine(r). Antispasmodics used are typically Levbid(r) and Bentyl(r).

A survey in March 1998 by Tom Ferguson M.D. at Boston’s Center for Clinical Computing and William Kelly at the Sapient Health Network showed that online health communities are significantly more helpful than even specialists in 9 of 12 healthcare aspects. The nine areas that were found to be superior were the convenience, cost effectiveness, emotional support, compassion, source of medical references, source of information, source of coping tips, death issues, and most likely to be there for the long haul. They also rated a bit higher in the area of technical medical information. Online health communities therefore seem to be a very good bet for anyone with a chronic illness. It is also a means of finding a place to go where you are both understood and appreciated. Many find that it gives them a new purpose in life; a sense of accomplishment when they help comfort someone new to their illness.

Support groups offer a wonderful way to connect to people going through what you are going through.  They offer information and a much needed lifeline of people to talk to when you are feeling down.