Have you frequently found yourself in a shitty situation – literally? Between 25 and 55 million Americans suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.

The disease, which afflicts mostly women, is not life threatening but may become a chronic problem that can significantly impair quality of life. Symptoms of IBS include but are not limited to violent episodes of diarrhea; constipation; constipation alternating with diarrhea; abdominal pain and cramps that are aggravated by eating and relieved by having a bowel movement; excess gas and bloating; and harder or looser stools than normal.

Some people with IBS may experience more or fewer symptoms depending upon the severity of their disease. The mechanisms behind IBS are still not fully understood, but there are several triggers to IBS including specific foods, medications, the presence of gas or stool and emotional stress.

If you think you may have IBS your physician can diagnose you based on several clinical tests, including blood testing for anemia, stool testing, lactose intolerance and the test that has 40-year-olds all over the states shaking in their panties. a colonoscopy. But don’t worry if the doctors do determine that you have IBS, there are several treatments addressing stress release techniques and food avoidance as well as some new medications that show promise.

Ashleyann Gosselin may be contacted at