IBS Awareness Month
The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, a public charity, have designated April as the month to raise awareness for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS.
IBS is, usually, a lifelong gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. Common symptoms include stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation1, although symptoms are often highly individual and can change over time.
Within the UK it is estimated that 6-21% of the population have IBS, however, this may be much higher as around 70% of those with symptoms do not consult a health care professional about them2.
The aim of this year’s IBS awareness month is to get social media conversations started by getting people to share their IBS related questions using the hashtags #IBSAwarenessMonth and #IWant2Know. Common questions include treatment availability and how to manage symptoms.
Unfortunately, the causality of IBS is still not fully understood, it is most likely a combination of: family history of IBS, stress, oversensitive nerves in the gut and how quickly or slowly food passes through your gastrointestinal system1. Although there is currently no treatment for IBS, it is possible to control the condition; with stress being a potential symptom trigger for IBS1, it is therefore important to manage stress-levels in sufferers3.
Tips on how to de-stress and increase wellbeing:
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness, the ability to be fully present in the moment, has been shown to reduce IBS symptom scores as well as symptoms of stress4. You can take online mindfulness courses, partake in mindfulness meditation or just focus more on your own thoughts and feelings.
- Don’t work into the evening – whether this is school work, working from home or personal admin make sure to set yourself a time to put the work away and wind down before bed.
- Find time to move your body. This doesn’t have to mean going for an exhausting long run or spending hours in the gym, you can take short breaks throughout your day to increase your physical activity levels. You can do some stretching, go out for a walk, enjoy some gardening or even do some physical housework. IBS patients who increased their physical activity levels were found to have improved symptoms
Make sure you get talking about IBS this April and remember to use the hashtags #IBSAwarenessMonth #IWant2Know to join the online conversations. For more information on how to get involved visit aboutibs.org/ibs-awareness-month.
Love Your Gut – Q&A with Dietitian Jo Travers
Recently Love Your Gut hosted a Q&A session on gut health – view it here
and don’t forget you can also download a copy of our #GutTalk Guide
Love Your Gut Partner – The IBS Network
As part of IBS Awareness Month, Love Your Gut Partner The IBS Network have launched a new campaign reassuring people with IBS that they can take control of their condition.
The campaign, called Take Control, highlights ways that people with IBS can live well and learn to better manage their condition.
Throughout April, they are encouraging people with IBS to do at least one thing to take control of their IBS. This could be completing a wellness diary, recording what they are eating and how they are feeling, trying a probiotic or making time for relaxation.
They have produced a guide, Take Control of Your IBS, with more information about what you can do to effectively self-manage your IBS.
- What is IBS? : Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs/ [Accessed 19.03.20].
- Cavan et al. (2014) The epidemiology of irritable bowel syndrome. Clinical Epidemiology 6:71-80
- Qin et al. (2014) Impact of psychological stress on irritable bowel syndrome. Wold Journal of Gastroenterology 20(39):14126-14131
- Zernicke et al. (2013) Mindfulness-based stress reduction for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms: a randomized wait-listed controlled trail. International Journal of Behavioural Medicine 20(3):385-396
- Johannesson et al. (2015) Intervention to increase physical activity in irritable bowel syndrome shows long-term positive effects. World Journal of Gastroenterology 21(2):600-608