IBS In America Survey Results: Treatments

We recently asked the IBS community about your experiences of living with irritable bowel syndrome. It quickly became clear that people with IBS are struggling to find a treatment plan that works. Here is what the 4th Annual IBS In America survey said:

When discussing treatments for IBS only 7 percent of respondents felt their IBS is well-controlled with their current treatment plan. This means 93 percent are looking for answers! Other findings include:

  • 87 percent are not taking a prescription drug to help manage their IBS.
  • 45 percent (or 4 in 10) are not taking a prescription drug because their doctor never recommended it.
  • Only 1 in 10 are currently using a prescription IBS drug.

Important treatment decisions

Many factors go into deciding what treatments you want to consider for managing your IBS. Your body and health make these very personal decisions. What emerged at the top of the list as your most important considerations were:

  • Effectiveness of the treatment (46 percent)
  • Potential side effects (41 percent)

Common IBS treatments

Generally, over-the-counter treatments are the first line of defense for over half (56 percent) of those surveyed when they need to manage IBS symptoms. The most popular choices are:

  • Antacids such as Tums®, Pepcid®, Zantac®, or Nexium® (51 percent)
  • Antidiarrheals such as Imodium®, Lomotil®, Kaopectate®, or Pepto-Bismol® (49 percent)
  • Anti-gas treatments such as Gas-X® and Digestive Advantage® (36 percent)
  • Anti-anxiety or antidepressant prescription drugs such as Prozac®, Paxil®, Zoloft®, Elavil®, and Valium® (38 percent)

Dietary changes and alternative therapies

In addition to over-the-counter drugs, many of you have made changes to your diet and health habits to help manage IBS symptoms. By far, the most common dietary change (80 percent) was to increase hydration or liquid intake. Other changes include:

  • 74 percent eat smaller meals and focus on not overeating
  • 67 percent have identified and now avoid trigger foods
  • Around 50 percent avoid fried foods, spicy foods, dairy, sweeteners, and limit fats
  • 49 percent report using a probiotic or prebiotic
  • 52 percent say exercise helps

Stool softener/MiraLax®

Managing constipation often becomes necessary for people living with IBS. This may be a constant challenge for some or it may fluctuate with diet and eating habits for others. Of those surveyed, nearly half (45 percent) have been using MiraLax® for 2 years or longer as a means of managing constipation and 71 percent report being able to tolerate MiraLax as a treatment.

Pain management

Living with IBS involves quite a bit of pain and discomfort. Based on responses to the survey, there are several different pain management techniques that are used for managing the pain associated with IBS. Fifty-six percent report using an over-the-counter drug, such as Ibuprofen, Aleve® or Tylenol®. Exercise and heating pads helped 42 percent of those surveyed to control their pain.

Treatment cost

Living with a chronic illness can take a toll, not just physically and emotionally, but also financially. However, the cost associated with IBS treatment was not a significant financial burden for most of the survey participants:

  • 52 percent reported spending less than $50 a month on IBS treatments
  • 41 percent stated they experienced no negative financial impact from the cost of treatments

IBS In America respondents

Nearly all (95 percent) of those who responded to the survey were women and 91 percent were Caucasian. Half reported having a college degree and 37 percent were employed in some capacity. Just over half reported having an annual income of less than $55,000 a year and 80 percent had health insurance coverage. Other characteristics of those surveyed included:

  • 94 percent have also been diagnosed with an additional chronic illness, the most common (46 percent) being anxiety or a panic disorder
  • 59 percent are currently married
  • 78 percent live with someone else

Learn more about the 4th Annual IBS In America survey and its results:

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