With so many people being diagnosed, there’s even more you need to know about IBS. Around a third of the adult population is thought to experience IBS at some point in their life. Symptoms include abdominal pain and spasms, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, excessive wind and an urgent need to empty your bowels.
‘IBS doesn’t cause long-term damage or put you at risk for more serious illnesses, but it can have a major effect on a person’s wellbeing,’ says gastroenterologist Dr Nick Read, chairman of the IBS Network. Here’s what you need to know.
1. More people are suffering from IBS
There’s been an increase in the number of people reporting IBS symptoms over the past 40 years, with the biggest incidences starting to occur in people in their 20s and 30s.
2. Sweeteners are irritating
The increased use of high-fructose corn syrup, which is used as a sweetener in many drinks and ready meals, is problematic for many people as fructose in this form isn’t well absorbed.
Read more: How to beat your sugar cravings
3. Beware of stress and fats
Stress can sensitise the gut, as can eating on the run. Fats can also irritate, as can coffee, chilli and high-fibre cereals.
4. Antibiotics can worsen IBS
The overuse of antibiotics can also deplete and destabilise the natural balance of bacteria in the colon, which may also render our guts more sensitive to these foods.
5. Keeping a diary of your symptoms can help
The IBS Network has an online self-care plan, with a symptom tracker that can help you record your trigger foods and mood patterns.
6. You don’t have to cut out foods completely
Remember, foods that may trigger IBS don’t need to be cut out completely – simply restricting them can make a big difference.
7. Remember to see your GP – especially if you’re over 50
This is especially important if you’re over 50, or have a family history of bowel or ovarian cancer,’ says Dr Read. ‘Your GP may do tests to rule out more serious but treatable conditions such as Crohn’s disease, coeliac disease or bowel cancer.’
Is there anything else you need to know about IBS? Head to www.loveyourgut.com for more expert tips, recipes and advice