"Irritable Bowel" refers to a disturbance in the regulation of bowel function that results in unusual sensitivity and muscle activity. "Syndrome" refers to a number or set of symptoms and not one symptom exclusively. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is also known as Functional Bowel Syndrome (FBS), Functional Bowel Disease (FBD) or spastic colon, spastic or mucous colitis and colitis. There are a number of studies done over the last 10-15 years that show the rate of people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome in North America to be between 10-20%. Women are being affected at the rate of two-to-three times more often than men.
However, it is not limited to adults. A study of 507 middle school and high school students by Hyams et al. indicated that 6-14% of the adolescent population complained of symptoms consistent with IBS. In the study, anxiety and depression scores were significantly higher for students with IBS-type symptoms compared with those without symptoms. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the number one reason people seek out the care of gastroenterologists in the western world. This intestinal disorder is associated with a variety of uncomfortable symptoms. Though IBS affects millions of people, the exact cause is not known and medicine has no exact cure, though over 2 million prescriptions per year are written for the symptoms of IBS.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is also known as: colitis, mucous colitis spastic bowel, spastic colon, spastic colitis as well as functional bowel disease. But none of these names truly describe the condition. Research has found that even though the quality of life may be drastically compromised for those who suffer IBS, it is still seriously under diagnosed. Many try to deal with the condition on their own due to embarrassment and or fear of the treatment, until the symptoms become unbearable or they fear the extreme.
Studies have shown that the cost of treating IBS can be very high and that even though the drugs used for IBS are expensive, most of them have not been shown to be any more effective than placebos. Some of the drugs also come with costly side effects, such as when the new and exciting drug for IBS was introduced called Lotronex. Just 10 months after hundreds of thousands of IBS sufferers began taking the drug, it was pulled off pharmacy shelves after several people died and many more suffered serious side effects associated with its use. Still others have learned later that they had undergone unnecessary surgery.