What People With IBS Want Others to Know
Last updated: April 2023
The Irritable Bowel Syndrome In America Survey asks people with IBS about how the condition affects their life. It asks about many aspects of living with IBS, including diagnosis, quality of life, symptoms, and treatment. And it asks about the support people get from their doctors and loved ones.
In the 2022 IBS In America Survey, we learned a few things people with IBS want others to know about what life with IBS is really like.
IBS and social activities
Many people with IBS said that their symptoms affect their social life. This often means their symptoms affect their mental health as well.
- 61 percent said their symptoms make planning ahead difficult.
- 56 percent stated they had declined social invitations because of their IBS.
- 42 percent said IBS has negatively impacted their social life or relationships with friends.
IBS and food
About one-third of the people who took the survey stated that IBS made eating out extremely difficult. This included eating at a restaurant (33 percent) or at the home of a friend or acquaintance (33 percent).
About one-third of people have trouble asking a server at a restaurant to recommend menu options that meet their IBS needs and restrictions. Another 30 percent were worried about finding adequate restroom facilities when they dine out.
About a quarter of people with IBS have a hard time finding recipes to make at home that will not cause an IBS flare. Only 17 percent of those surveyed said that they eat whatever they want despite their IBS.
IBS and mental health
Just under half (45 percent) of respondents strongly agreed that IBS has affected their mental health. Specifically:
- 62 percent of people surveyed said IBS causes anxiety in their daily life.
- 39 said IBS causes them to feel overly critical of themselves.
- 35 percent said IBS has disrupted their career.
- 31 percent said IBS makes it difficult to form close relationships.
Only 21 percent of people surveyed stated that IBS does not stop them from doing the things they enjoy. Similarly, only 16 percent are satisfied with their current quality of life.
There are many ways to manage IBS. Most survey respondents (89 percent) said that effectiveness is a major deciding factor when choosing a treatment. More than half of the people surveyed stated that self-discipline was their primary way of controlling their IBS symptoms:
- 66 percent of those surveyed limit or avoid foods that aggravate their IBS.
- 61 percent eat smaller meals.
- 56 percent drink more fluids.
While many of the people surveyed have tried prescription drugs for their IBS in the past, only 10 percent currently use one to control their symptoms.
IBS and social support
Only 40 percent of people surveyed feel that their friends and family were supportive during an IBS flare. Fortunately, more of them feel supported by their doctor:
- 61 percent stated their doctor was easy to talk to
- 57 percent said their doctor listens to them
- 56 percent believe their doctor cares about them
About half of the respondents felt they received excellent care from their doctor.
IBS information needs and resources
According to the survey, the top 5 topics that people with IBS want more information about are:
- Managing IBS symptoms
- Diet and nutrition
- The latest IBS research
- The effect of IBS on mental health
- Currently available IBS medicines
To get this information, about half of survey respondents (54 percent) rely on their doctor. Even more use either general internet searches (62 percent) or IBS-specific websites (63 percent) to learn about their condition.
As you can see, there are many things that people with IBS want others to know about how IBS affects their life. Is there anything else that you want people to know?
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The 2022 IBS In America Survey was conducted online from May through July 2022. The survey was completed by 1,478 people.
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