Famous People With Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects millions of people, including celebrities. Here's a list of famous people who have had to deal with IBS.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms include pain, gas, cramping or bloating, and diarrhea or constipation. Every case of IBS is different, but symptoms are thought to be triggered by certain foods, stress, hormonal changes, or medications.

Treatments include dietary and lifestyle changes, stress-management techniques, and—if those aren't enough—medicine for pain, diarrhea, or constipation.

IBS affects twice as many women as it does men, and most people who live with it don't see a healthcare provider for their symptoms. But it is a common problem. The American College of Gastroenterology estimates that IBS affects 10% to 15% of the U.S. population—including these familiar faces.

Tyra Banks

While the model and talk-show host quizzed guest Janet Jackson with embarrassing questions on her show, "Tyra," in 2006, Banks revealed a private fact of her own.

"I'm very gassy," she told Jackson and the audience, explaining that she has IBS.

Camille Grammer

This "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star (and ex-wife of Kelsey Grammer) was diagnosed with IBS in 1996. And she and her then-husband became spokespeople for the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders.

"I am always fearful that my IBS symptoms will return at any moment, so I always have to know where the nearest restroom is," said Grammer.

"I'm afraid that eating will result in stomach pain. Traveling is difficult. And IBS often makes even a simple evening out with my husband to enjoy a concert or movie seem impossible."

Cam'Ron

This rapper and actor, whose real name is Cameron Giles, spent much of his early career in the hospital due to an ulcer, a hernia, and irritable bowel syndrome.

In 2002, the New York Daily News reported he gave up drinking, which helped alleviate some symptoms.

Cam'Ron felt so strongly about his gastrointestinal problems that he wrote a song called "I.B.S.," released in 2006. It includes the lyrics: I got stomach pain / Don't matter sun or rain / Thought that it went away / Uh-oh, here it come again.

Chyler Leigh

Best known for her roles on "Grey's Anatomy" and "Supergirl," this star has been acting since childhood. In 2008, she told People that being young and rich in Hollywood led her down a path of drinking and drug use.

In 2001, on the set of "Not Another Teen Movie," Leigh's director pulled her aside to express his concern over her recent weight loss. 

"Barely eating because of her drug use, Leigh was becoming malnourished and coping with irritable bowel syndrome," reported People.

Leigh learned to take back her health and take care of her body with the support of her church and longtime boyfriend, Nathan West, who is now her husband.

Jenny McCarthy

The former Playboy Playmate and host of MTV's "Singled Out" wrote in her 1997 autobiography, Jen-X: Jenny McCarthy's Open Book, that she doesn't need to diet and exercise to stay thin—she's such a nervous wreck living in Hollywood that she has chronic diarrhea.

The outspoken actress and mother has also talked openly about her IBS symptoms (mainly gas and diarrhea) on "The Howard Stern Show" and in Arena magazine.

Cybill Shepherd

In 2004, the actress and former "Moonlighting" star revealed that she had suffered from chronic constipation, bloating, and abdominal discomfort for more than 20 years.

"I kept it a secret because I didn't want it to interfere with my work," Shepherd said in a statement.

Additionally, Shepherd noted that fiber supplements and over-the-counter laxatives were no help, and healthcare providers told her it was all in her head. Finally, she was diagnosed with IBS and became a spokesperson for Novartis and their IBS drug Zelnorm (tegaserod).

Franklin Gutierrez

The former center fielder for the Seattle Mariners was diagnosed with IBS in April 2011 after undergoing tests at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Mysterious stomach pains had landed him on the team's disabled list at the start of the season.

Gutierrez was prescribed medication to take before meals and was able to get back on the field about six weeks later.

"Knowing now this is what I have [and] can be treatable makes me feel better mentally, and now I want to feel better physically, too, to get ready and be here again," Gutierrez told the Seattle Times after his diagnosis.

Kurt Cobain

"Thank you all from the pit of my burning, nauseous stomach," the Nirvana frontman wrote in his 1994 suicide note. For years, Cobain had talked openly and written in his journal about a painful stomach ailment that healthcare providers had been unable to diagnose.

The 2007 biography Kurt Cobain: Oh Well, Whatever, Nevermind claims that the pain was what partially drove the rocker to self-medicate with, and eventually become addicted to, heroin.

In 2004, The Guardian wrote that Cobain's IBS-like symptoms were likely exacerbated by his poor diet, which consisted mainly of Kraft macaroni and cheese and Strawberry Quik, and contained few if any, fruits or vegetables.

Lynda Carter

She's most well known for playing the part of Wonder Woman in the 1970s, but since then, Lynda Carter has taken on another role that's near and dear to her heart.

In 2002, the actress became a spokeswoman for IBS awareness, speaking to women about the debilitating condition her mother dealt with for more than 30 years—although Carter didn't have the condition herself.

"IBS has been so shrouded in darkness," Carter said in a 2003 statement. "I know the truth about how people suffer. It is just one more closeted condition that we need to shine some light on because it is a very real medical condition, and you're not crazy."

John F. Kennedy

When a presidential historian and medical consultant examined the late president's medical records in 2002, it was discovered that Kennedy suffered from many painful and potentially debilitating ailments that he hid from the public.

This included severe bouts of diarrhea, which healthcare providers suspected might have been ulcerative colitis.

"Repeated examinations did not confirm that," reported The New York Times. "Their ultimate diagnosis was spastic colitis, which today would be described as irritable bowel syndrome."

Kennedy took antidiarrheal drugs for relief and was given supplemental testosterone to help him regain weight and strength.

A Quick Review

IBS is a condition affecting the large intestine, causing painful abdominal cramps, bloating, and a change in bowel habits (such as diarrhea or constipation), per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)

The mechanisms by which IBS occurs remain elusive, so it's difficult to prevent the condition. However, per the NIDDK, there are some shared factors among people with IBS, which may help indicate what behaviors contribute to flare-ups, such as:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bacterial infections
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
  • Food intolerances or sensitivities (for example, gluten or lactose intolerance) 

If you experience symptoms of IBS, consult your healthcare providers. Treatments for the condition include lifestyle changes (such as eating a high-fiber diet and exercising), medications, and counseling.

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