Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common, long-term condition of the digestive system. It can cause bouts of stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation.
The symptoms vary between individuals and affect some people more severely than others. They tend to come and go in periods lasting a few days to a few months at a time, often during times of stress or after eating certain foods. You may find some of the symptoms of IBS ease after going to the toilet and opening your bowels.
IBS is thought to affect up to one in five people at some point in their life, and it usually first develops when a person is between 20 and 30 years of age. Around twice as many women are affected as men. The condition can be often lifelong, although it may improve over several years.
See your GP if you think you have IBS symptoms, so they can try to determine the cause. Your GP may be able to identify IBS based on your symptoms, although blood tests may be needed to rule out other conditions.
What causes IBS?
The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but most experts think that it’s related to increased sensitivity of the gut and problems digesting food.
These problems may mean that you are more sensitive to pain coming from your gut, and you may become constipated or have diarrhoea because your food passes through your gut either too slowly or too quickly.
Psychological factors such as stress may also play a part in IBS.
Living with IBS
IBS is unpredictable. You may go for many months without any symptoms, then have a sudden flare-up.
The condition can also be painful and debilitating, which can have a negative impact on your quality of life and emotional state. Many people with IBS will experience feelings of depression and anxiety, at some point.
You may have feelings of depression or anxiety that are affecting your daily life. These problems rarely improve without treatment and your GP can recommend treatments such as antidepressants or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which can help you cope with IBS, as well as directly treating the condition.
With appropriate medical and psychological treatment, you should be able to live a normal, full and active life with IBS.
IBS does not pose a serious threat to your physical health and does not increase your chances of developing cancer or other bowel-related conditions.
How IBS is treated
IBS symptoms can often be managed by making changes to your diet and lifestyle.
For example, it may help to:
- identify and avoid foods or drinks that trigger your symptoms
- alter the amount of fibre in your diet
- exercise regularly
- reduce your stress levels
Medication is sometimes prescribed for people with IBS to treat the individual symptoms they experience.
Counselling and Psychotherapy will be very helpful; however, Hypnotherapy has been proven to be most beneficial.
Client Testimonial: IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) – Miss J.T. Bournemouth
“I have been suffering from IBS for several years and have been undergoing medical treatment from doctors and nutritionists, without a desired effect. I saw a pattern in my symptoms which made me aware that stress and anxiety was a major contributing cause of the IBS. I decided enough was enough and investigated other methods of treatment, which is what put me in contact with Joy at Swans Therapy. The treatment I received helped me to learn what my personal triggers were and how best to manage them, giving me back control over my symptoms. The relaxation techniques and hypnotherapy treatment I have received has enabled me to feel so much better and happier. I have also found out when and why my emotional reaction to eating began as a young girl, which helped me to understand myself more. Engaging in the counselling process with Joy has helped me to now get on with my life, for which I am very grateful”