“There are many conditions that have a female or male predominance, but we don’t understand why women have a higher prevalence of IBS,” Altepeter says.
IBS is most common among people younger than 45, and patients usually first experience symptoms when they’re in their late 20s. People who have a family history of IBS are also more likely to develop the condition.
Depression, anxiety and other psychological problems are common in people with IBS.
“Some people suffer from depression and IBS. The question is what’s primary or secondary – what came first?” Altepeter says. “Either way, antidepressants are not a cure for IBS.”
Treatments for IBS vary from patient to patient and include changes in diet, nutrition and exercise. Some patients require medications to manage their symptoms. Currently there are no medications that cure IBS.
“IBS is not like other chronic conditions, such as hypertension, which is constant. IBS is a variable condition. Even without treatment, the problem might go away in some patients. But the symptoms might return after a few months,” Altepeter says.