IBS or irritable bowel syndrome affects around one in five people in Ireland and 700 million worldwide. April is “IBS Awareness Month” and although IBS is a common condition, often stigmatised and misunderstood, the symptoms can significantly impact the quality of life for many patients. The condition can take a toll on people with sufferers carrying spare toilet tissue and researching the location of toilets before going out.
Females are twice as likely to be affected with IBS as males. IBS can be trigged by menstrual cycles, pregnancy, menopause and endometriosis. Women with IBS are estimated to be at significantly higher risk of undergoing a hysterectomy. IBS can take a toll emotionally also with people feeling depressed, anxious and having low self-confidence and social isolation can make things worse.
The signs of IBS used to be too embarrassing for people even to mention, but now they're all over TikTok. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is enjoying a moment in the spotlight with hashtags and trends on social media, including "Hot girls with IBS” and "All hot girls have stomach problems”. Although tongue in cheek, the impact of this movement should not be underestimated.
Irish Pharmacist, AKA The Fabulous Pharmacist, Laura Dowling believes that speaking out about this is a very positive thing.
She says: “It is great to see people willing to talk about their bowel movements. In addition to normalising a bodily function that everyone has, this trend is helping people become aware of common digestive issues such as diarrhoea, constipation and bloating and encouraging people to take more interest in their own gut health. IBS is a complex and debilitating condition for which there is no known cause. However, people often ignore the signs.”
Stress is now known to be a contributor for IBS sufferers. IBS significantly affects the quality of life and patients can end up being isolated from friends, family, colleagues and even their partners as a result of IBS flare-ups.
Laura’s top tips for managing IBS
- Cook homemade meals and try to use fresh ingredients when you can
- Keep a food diary- record what you eat and any symptoms you get. You will begin to see a pattern. Avoid foods that trigger your IBS
- Find ways to relax such as yoga, breath exercises and reading
- Get plenty of exercise or introduce exercise into your daily routine
- Try a probiotic such as Alflorex
Talking about IBS with your friends and family might not be easy, but it can make your life easier. By having a more open conversation about IBS, we can reduce your stress and make it easier for people to understand what you're going through. Influencers using platforms such as TikTok are a great way to open the conversation surrounding gut health.
- One in five Irish people suffer from IBS (700 million worldwide)
- The condition tends to persist long-term
- Females are twice as likely to be affected as males.
- It can be affected by menstrual cycles, pregnancy, menopause, endometriosis. Women with IBS are estimated to be at significantly higher risk of undergoing a hysterectomy
- Stress is now known to be a contributor for IBS sufferers.
- IBS significantly affects the quality of life and sufferers can end up being isolated from friends, family, colleagues and even their partners as a result of IBS flare-ups.