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PRESS RELEASE: Who is Running Your Life? You or Your Bowel? IFFGD Offers Information and Support to Sufferers During Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month

April, 2001

SOURCE: The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

MILWAUKEE, April 2 /PRNewswire/ -- The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) today announced the kick-off of the 4th Annual Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects approximately 15-20 percent of the U.S. population and is the most common disease diagnosed by gastroenterologists. IBS is a leading cause of absenteeism from work. To help sufferers understand IBS, the IFFGD is offering free information and support through a toll free hotline -- 1-888-964-2001.

IBS is a disturbance of colon function usually characterized by abdominal discomfort, bloating and abnormal bowel movements. The symptoms of IBS are wide-ranging and include chronic diarrhea or constipation, gas, bloating and nausea. IBS sufferers may feel a sensation of not being able to fully empty their bowels.

``Almost everyone experiences an occasional bout with abdominal pain and diarrhea or constipation and people may view these symptoms as normal,'' said Nancy Norton, President and Founder of IFFGD. ``What people need to understand is when these symptoms are chronic or recurring or when they interrupt daily activities, it may be a sign of IBS.''

An estimated 30 million people suffer from IBS in the United States. Female patients outnumber male patients by a ratio of three to one. IBS occurs most commonly in women between the ages of 20 and 40. The impact of IBS can range from an inconvenience to severe debilitation -- controlling many aspects of one's emotional, social and professional life. Factors that can aggravate IBS include stress, anxiety, diet and in women, their menstrual cycle.

Those experiencing symptoms of IBS are encouraged to call the IFFGD hotline at 1-888-964-2001 for more information. Active the entire year from 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM EST Monday-Friday, the staff is available to answer questions and provide membership literature and materials. Additionally, the IFFGD offers a daily diary, which can help sufferers keep track of symptoms, emotional status and any medications being taken for IBS-related symptoms. The diary can serve as a valuable tool when discussing IBS with their physician.

The key to successful diagnosis and treatment of IBS begins with education about the nature of the disorder. Less than half of those who suffer with IBS seek treatment advice from a physician, yet it accounts for approximately 12 percent of all visits to primary care physicians and 28 percent of gastroenterologist visits.

``People need to recognize the symptoms of IBS and effectively communicate them with their physician. For some, IBS can be a severely debilitating condition,'' said Douglas A. Drossman, M.D., Co-Director, UNC Center for Functional GI and Motility Disorders and Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry, Division of Digestive Diseases, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. ``While there is no cure for IBS, if it is properly diagnosed and treated, a person's quality of life can improve dramatically.''

The IFFGD is a nonprofit education and research organization whose mission it is to inform, assist and support those affected by gastrointestinal disorders. With an international group of experts from multiple disciplines who serve on the organization's medical advisory board, the IFFGD is a resource for anyone seeking increased knowledge about gastrointestinal disorders for both adults and children. For more information call 1-888-964-2001 or visit the IFFGD website at http://www.iffgd.org or http://www.aboutibs.org.

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