April is Irritable Bowel Syndome (IBS) Awareness month! I am on a mission this month to raise awareness of IBS and dispel the unnecessary stigma often associated with this debilitating condition.
Having IBS can be overwhelming and make you feel lonely and isolated because, unless someone has IBS or gut issue themselves, they can never truly understand how you are feeling and the impact your symptoms can have on your daily life.
But you are not alone, I am here to help!
Here are 15 little known facts about IBS that everyone needs to know!
1 in 7 people have IBS, that’s 15% of the population worldwide!
IBS is more common in women with 2 in 3 sufferers being female.
IBS is a common disorder of the gut-brain axis, which means that your gut and your brain are not communicating like they should be. This causes your gut to be more sensitive and leads to a higher response to things like hormonal changes, food and drink, medications and lifestyle factors.
Although the symptoms of IBS can be severe, they do not cause any permanent or visible damage to your body or gastrointestinal system. This is why tests will come back as “normal”, which can be incredibly frustrating for suffers of the condition.
The most common symptoms of IBS include, bloating, distension (pregnant looking belly), constipation, diarrhoea, excessive wind, abdominal pain, discomfort and cramps.
These symptoms can negatively impact our quality of life because they affect so many areas of our life including our relationships with friends and family, work life, travelling and even avoiding seeking help.
IBS can also affect mental health by causing fear around food, stress, anxiety, poor body image, low self-esteem, social isolation, low mood and fatigue.
20 - 40% of all visits to gastroenterologists are due to IBS symptoms.
On average people suffer with IBS symptoms for 6.6 years before being diagnosed.
Only 30% of people who experience IBS symptoms see a doctor. That means 70% of people suffer in silence!
IBS is one of the most burdensome chronic ailments reported by suffers.
People with IBS restrict their activities 73 days a year, that’s 20% of the year!
People with IBS would give up 25% of life years for a cure.
Only 12.8% of people with IBS are happy with their prescribed IBS treatment.
The FODMAP diet is therapeutic diet that can improve symptoms in up to 80% of people with IBS when followed with the support of a specialised IBS Dietitian.