If you’re living with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you’re already aware of the impact the condition can have on your life — but chances are strong that other people in your orbit don’t know as much as they could about the disease. That’s why it’s important to raise awareness for this medical condition — particularly in April, which is IBS Awareness Month.
It can be hard when your friends and family don’t know what you’re going through. It can also feel difficult to say no to loved ones who don’t understand your situation because you might worry about how your relationships will be affected.
Raising awareness of IBS is important so your friends, family, and acquaintances can better understand how to support you.
“I will never stop advocating for myself, and if I can help other people with what I’m going through, I will. Bowel issues and a whole wide spectrum of other health issues that come along with it need to have awareness raised,” wrote one myIBSteam member.
Before you can create public awareness by sharing information with others, it’s a good idea to understand the specifics of IBS. Learn more about IBS’s causes, signs and symptoms, and treatment options.
IBS is a functional disorder of the gastrointestinal system. In people with IBS, there is no damage or visible sign of disease in the large intestine, but it does not work properly. IBS can cause diarrhea, constipation, or a mixture of both, along with abdominal pain, bloating, heartburn, and other symptoms. IBS can have a significant impact on quality of life, negatively affecting work, relationships, social life, and travel.
After you’re armed with information about IBS, you can share it with others. The fastest and least expensive way for this kind of advocacy is through social media. You can post information about IBS, share details about the condition, and join communities of other people who are also working to raise awareness of IBS.
For example, you can follow and share messages from the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) on Facebook or Twitter. You can share the foundation’s awareness resources, including digital posters.
Additionally, to ensure your messages on social media reach as many people as possible, consider using an appropriate IBS-related hashtag, like #IBSAwareness or #IFFGD. This way, your posts will be seen by more people who have the same interests, and they’re more likely to share and comment.
Social media helps raise awareness for the condition, and it also allows other people with IBS to realize they aren’t alone. Joining an IBS community on social media, such as myIBSteam, can also help you connect with others.
Another way to raise IBS awareness is to participate in an activity dedicated to the cause. You can walk or run for IBS, play bingo, participate in fundraising activities, or even create a unique event that works for your interests. You can help other people understand more about IBS while having fun and raising money for the cause.
If you are able, you can also donate (or encourage others to donate) to the IFFGD to support IBS advocacy and gastrointestinal disorder research.
In addition, remember to engage in self-care. It is emotionally taxing to educate others about your experiences, so know your limits and accept when to put your mental well-being first.
On myIBSteam, more than 25,000 people living with IBS come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with the condition.
Share your IBS journey in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.