Three people in various states of discomfort, cramping, and bloating are in front of a bar graph.

IBS In America Survey Results: Top Symptoms

We recently conducted a survey asking the community about your experience of living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). While there were many symptoms mentioned in the responses, 4 out of 5 of you reported experiencing abdominal cramping and pain. The major symptoms as reported in the 4th Annual IBS In America survey can be broken down as follows:

  • 79 percent reported abdominal pain or cramps
  • 75 percent have an urgent needs to move bowels
  • 71 percent experienced frequent bowel movements
  • 68 percent experienced bloating
  • 66 percent experienced excessive gas/flatulence
  • 66 percent reported fullness in abdomen

When initial symptoms appeared

In reflecting back to when your IBS symptoms first began, 34 percent of you had symptoms before age 25. The most common IBS symptoms you reported were abdominal cramping and pain, the urgent need to move bowels, gas, and bloating. However, since these symptoms did not seem overly concerning, half of you ignored the symptoms and went on with your life.

What is your IBS diagnosis?

There were 3 main variants to an IBS diagnosis that you reported:

  • 41 percent (or 4 in 10 people) reported being diagnosed with IBS with alternating constipation and diarrhea
  • 41 percent reported being diagnosed with IBS with diarrhea
  • 14 percent reported being diagnosed with IBS with constipation

How do you perceive your diagnosis?

Nearly all respondents perceived their IBS as being either moderate or severe. Of those, 43 percent reported as severe, and 54 recent reported as moderate

Your perception of your IBS diagnosis stemmed from the frequency that you experience symptoms. Over three-quarters of you reported experiencing symptoms either daily or weekly. It was clear from the data that most of you are consistently struggling with your IBS symptoms.

  • 38 percent experience daily symptoms
  • 40 percent experience weekly symptoms
  • 14 percent experience monthly symptoms

What is most difficult about your diagnosis?

In looking at the symptoms and management of IBS two items jumped out as being the most challenging for most of you. Seventy-eight percent of you feel your IBS symptoms are unpredictable, making management difficult. Of the most common symptoms reported above, the urgent need to move bowels was also reported as the most difficult IBS symptom to manage due to the way it interferes with daily life.

About the people surveyed

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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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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