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With an objective to generate widespread awareness about Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – a long-term gastrointestinal disorder – April is observed as “Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month” every year in the United States. Supported by the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorder (IFFGD – a nonprofit organization), the event aims to increase public awareness about IBS and focus attention on important health messages about IBS diagnosis, treatment and quality of life issues. As per recent reports, about 45 million people living in the United States suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. Also known as spastic colitis, mucous colitis, and nervous colon, IBS comprise a group of intestinal symptoms that typically occur together. The exact cause of IBS is not known. However, several factors like – bacterial infections in the digestive tract, hormonal changes, food intolerance and muscle contractions in the intestine can increase the risks of the condition. Healthy diet practices combined with medications can help manage the symptoms and treat the condition in a better manner. Gastroenterologists and other specialists treating IBS patients can rely on medical billing outsourcing companies to report IBS diagnosis and screening accurately.

The 2021 month-long campaign encourages people with IBS symptoms to seek medical advice. It acts as an exclusive platform to reduce the common stigma associated with IBS by encouraging people to openly talk more about this condition. The condition more commonly affects women than men – accounting for two out of every three cases. Patients are often stigmatized and have several misunderstandings about IBS and its related symptoms – that can have a significant impact on their quality of life. The symptoms of this condition vary from person to person depending on their severity and duration. In some cases, symptoms of IBS aren’t always persistent as they can resolve, only to come back. On the other hand, some people do experience continuous symptoms. Common symptoms associated with the condition include – abdominal pain, bloating, irregular bowel habits, and alternating diarrhea and constipation.

As part of the campaign, the IFFGD will join patients, family members, and caregivers to increase public awareness about IBS. As there is no specific test to clearly diagnose IBS, physicians will generally begin their initial evaluation through a detailed physical examination, medical history evaluation and other tests to correctly identify the symptoms and causes. In certain cases, imaging studies such as flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, X-ray and CT scan will also be performed as part of the diagnosis. Laboratory tests like lactose intolerance test, upper endoscopy, stool test and breath test will also be done to analyze the level of bacterial growth or infection within the intestine. As mentioned above, there is no specific cure for this condition and therefore treatment modalities give equal focus on medications and dietary changes. The diagnosis tests performed by gastroenterologists and other specialists need to be documented using the correct medical codes. Medical billing services provided by reliable medical billing companies can help physicians use the correct codes for their billing purposes. ICD-10 codes 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

April was first designated as “Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month” in the year 1997 by the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorder (IFFGD). “Don’t Suffer in Silence” is a common theme used in this awareness campaign wherein the prime focus is on important health messages about IBS diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life issues. Throughout the campaign, the IFFGD focuses on important health messages about IBS diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life issues.

As part of the campaign, individuals, healthcare centers, health professionals and community groups across the nation will host a wide range of programs to generate a conversation about IBS, share reliable information and resources, and raise awareness about this condition. These programs include – health promotion events, sharing links via several social media platforms, posting flyers at certain local venues in one’s community, publishing advocacy letter in local newspapers and encouraging general discussions to support and improve the quality of life for the millions of people living with this GI condition. More information about the IBS awareness event can be downloaded from the IFFGD website.