This paper was prepared for Nursing 120 Spring semester 2013
One can turn on the television at any point during the course of a day and see the constant bombardment of advertisements telling viewers that there are products available to assist them with gastrointestinal issues. The products range from antacids to stool softeners to various drugs which are supposed to help us with heartburn, acid reflux, gerd, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inflammatory Bowel Disease to name a few. It would appear that the need for such products is great and that there must be a lot of people suffering from any or all of these ailments. Most of us wouldn't think twice about popping a Tums in front other people, but when it comes to discussing the function of our bowels, we tend to keep those issues to ourselves. The topic is uncomfortable, embarrassing and one we tend to keep closely guarded. It is private. The commercials themselves reflect this feeling in that the "people" in the commercials are often cartoons depicting people blown up like balloons, or someone sneaking into a restroom while a narrator says in a whisper, "Not again", as if to soften the message to the general public. Other than those who work in the medical field, most people have probably never had anyone mention Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Inflammatory Bowel Disease directly in conversation. We prefer things to be pleasant and pretty, we even shorten the names of things that are uncomfortable to discuss; for example, Irritable Bowel Syndrome is commonly referred to as IBS and Inflammatory Bowel Disease as IBD. The majority of people have heard the letters IBS and IBD, even if most don't know what they stand for. While progressing through the nursing program and gaining experience during clinical hours, I recently had a patient that has long suffered with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I had to prepare the patient for an ostomy and the patient's main concerns were having a distorted body image and how this would impact sexuality. I also recently learned that the husband of a close friend suffers terribly from Inflammatory Bowel Disease, specifically Crohn’s Disease. He is a Physical Education teacher for at risk youth and finds it very difficult to live with, especially given his profession. Having been made more aware of the prevalence of IBS, it seemed appropriate to explore more about the disease process as it relates to which groups are affected, the pathophysiology, assessment, treatment/ intervention, and secondary conditions that are a result of having Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The focus here will be IBS, touching on IBD when discussing the psychological and emotional aspects of living with IBS and IBD. "Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic functional bowel disorder characterized by episodes of abdominal pain or discomfort associated with defecation or change in bowel habit, as well as features of disordered defecation" (Smith, 2012, p.40). Having defined what IBS is, the first aspect to be discussed is what the prevalence of IBS is throughout the world, and to identify those that are affected by this disease. Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects 10-20% of the population. It usually appears for the first time in the 20-30 year age group. IBS is more common in the female population, twice more prevalent than in men (Garner, 2012, p. 1).
Subjective vs. qualitative assessment information has made study of IBS very difficult and great efforts are being made to accurately gather data internationally. It is thought that a very limited diagnostic workup is sufficient to diagnose IBS for patients under age 50; barium enema, small bowel series, and colonoscopy are indicated only for patients over age 50, those with a family history of colon cancer, and those with indicators of organic disease (Reed, 2010, p. 12).