Every year, April is observed as “Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month” in the United States. The 2018 monthly campaign offers a platform for individuals and communities across the country to spread awareness about IBS and the millions of Americans who get affected by this bowel disorder every day. Reports suggest that IBS affects about 45 million people in the United States. Women are almost twice as likely to develop this condition as men. Sponsored by the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorder (IFFGD, a non-profit organization) this event aims to reduce the stigma associated with IBS by encouraging people to talk more about this condition. It also encourages people who have symptoms of IBS to seek immediate medical advice.

April is observed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastro-intestinal disorder that primarily affects the digestive system, particularly the large intestine. This condition causes inflammation in the digestive tract, resulting in severe complications. Prominent symptoms include – cramping, abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation and excess gas. There is no known cure for IBS. But complementary health practices along with medications, diet and counseling can often help control these symptoms. Gastroenterologists or IBS specialists who treat patients use different medications which help relieve symptoms such as abdominal cramping and constipation. Correct and timely treatment for IBS helps in reducing or controlling the progression of symptoms. For accurate clinical documentation of this chronic bowel disorder, physicians can opt for medical billing outsourcing services.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is seen more often in women than in men and the onset is usually before the age of 35 years (in almost half of the cases). The exact cause of this bowel disorder is unknown, but a combination of several factors such as muscle contractions in the intestine, abnormal gastrointestinal (GI) tract movements, bacterial infections in digestive tract, hormonal changes, food intolerances/sensitivities and changes in bacteria in the gut (microflora) is considered to be the main reason. In addition, stress and a family history of IBS can also cause this chronic disorder.

There are no specific lab tests that can definitively diagnose IBS. Physicians may evaluate the patient’s medical history and conduct physical exams and other tests to rule out other conditions. For instance, if a patient has IBS with diarrhea, they will be tested for gluten intolerance (celiac disease). Several diagnostic imaging studies such as – flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, X-rays and CT scans may be recommended by the physicians. In addition, laboratory tests such as – Lactose intolerance tests, Upper endoscopy, stool tests and breath test for bacterial overgrowth will be conducted to test for infection or problems with your intestine. The diagnosis, screening tests and other procedures performed by gastroenterologists or IBS specialists must be carefully documented using the correct medical codes. Medical billing and coding services provided by reputable companies can help physicians use the correct codes for their medical billing purposes. ICD-10 codes used for IBS include –

  • K58 – Irritable bowel syndrome
  • K58.0 – Irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea
  • K58.1 – Irritable bowel syndrome with constipation
  • K58.2 – Mixed irritable bowel syndrome
  • K58.8 – Other irritable bowel syndrome
  • K58.9 – Irritable bowel syndrome without diarrhea

The month of April was first designated as “Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month” by the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorder (IFFGD) in the year 1997 and ‘Don’t Suffer in Silence’ is a common theme used in this awareness campaign. Since 1997, the campaign has become a rallying point to focus attention on important health messages about IBS diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life issues.

Individuals, health professionals, teachers and community groups across the nation use this campaign to sponsor health activities and stimulate awareness about various health issues associated with IBS. These include – health promotion events, sharing links about IBS awareness event in social media platforms, posting flyers at certain local venues in one’s community and publishing advocacy letter in local newspapers. In addition, IFFGD has launched a new mobile informational app called – “IBS Info” (for iOS and Android platforms) that offers real-time information from experts in the gastrointestinal field to promote awareness and education about irritable bowel syndrome, its symptoms and treatment options. The new IBS informational app can be downloaded from the IFFGD website.

Join “Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month” campaign in April. Spread awareness about this chronic gastro-intestinal disorder and how it can be correctly diagnosed, treated and prevented.