IBS Awareness Month

April 2024
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month falls in April each year. IBS is the most common disorder of the digestive system, with up to one third of the UK population experiencing symptoms.

At Guts UK Charity, we raise vital awareness for IBS and much more, to make much-needed noise for our underfunded and understaffed guts.

What is IBS?

IBS is thought to be caused by the gut and brain over-communicating. In other words, talking to one another too much.

What are the symptoms of IBS?

Symptoms can include:

  • Constipation, diarrhoea or a mixture of the two
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abnormal bowel habits
  • Wind, bloating and distension (a widening of the firth of the abdomen)
  • Pooing mucus
  • 1/3 of IBS patients have bouts of constipation. Another 1/3 have bouts of diarrhoea. The final 1/3 don’t fall into a single pattern.
  • Feeling tired
  • Nausea (feeling sick)
  • Backache
  • Bladder symptoms

At what age does IBS begin?

IBS can happen at any age but the usual age for patients to seek advice is between 20 and 40 years.

Does IBS affect women or men more?

Women are slightly more affected than men by IBS.

What treatment is available for IBS?

Treatments are very individual, as they can vary depending on the symptoms. They can include medications, diet A digital character drawing of the colon, small intestine, stomach and bottom of the oesophagus. The character is sat down with their legs out to the right hand side, wearing black boots. They have a sad expression on their face. and lifestyle factors. It’s important to work alongside your doctor on what treatments you’d like to try. It’s important to remember that what works for one person may not work for the next. Learn as much as you can about what there is out there to try when it comes to IBS treatment.

Why is it important to raise awareness of IBS?

There are often many presumptions and misunderstandings when it comes to IBS. Not every illness is visible and you don’t have to look a certain way to have IBS. It’s time to encourage conversations about our toilet habits, because going to the toilet is really one of the most natural processes out there, which is common to us all.

James’ IBS story

James is smiling at the camera with his dog to the right. The photo is cropped to show the top of his arms upwards. He is wearing a black jumper, has ginger hair and a beard. He is also wearing glasses. His dog is black and curly, with a white patch on its chest and a few white whiskers.

“I’m fortunate to work somewhere understanding, with great people and a relaxed culture when it comes to talking about bowel habits.”

“I have no problem talking about my bowel habits if it helps someone else come to terms with theirs. I really believe you have to get to a certain level of acceptance to move past the worry and upset. There’s a power in self-managing your symptoms, and accepting them too.” – Continue James’ story here.

Alexandra’s IBS story

Alexandra is smiling towards the camera. The photo is taken from a side view and her body is facing left. She has a bunch of white roses in her arms which she is proudly showing the camera, with a house in the background.

“I wish I talked about IBS more openly, sooner. I’m recently single and newly dating. The thought of telling someone I was seeing about my bowels mortified me. But at the same time I wanted to be open and honest. I found the courage, and every single person I’ve told has been so lovely and understanding about it. People were kinder than I gave them credit for – I quickly realised that I was the one who’d built it up in my head. The people that are right for you will be understanding of your condition. Plus, it’s a great way of filtering out all of the people who aren’t worth your time!” – Continue reading Alexandra’s story here.

Where can I find more information on IBS?

Our patient information section is home to our expert, evidence-based information on IBS.

How can I help?

You can help us spread the word and chip away at the stigma surrounding IBS by:

  • Following us on social media and sharing our awareness and information posts during the week itself. You never know who we might reach and help together. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter/X.
  • Share your own experience, or a loved ones experience with IBS to your own circles, and on your own social media channels.
  • Fundraise for Guts UK Charity to help us abolish the taboos surrounding digestive health, and get to grips with guts. You can fund life-changing research, and empower people to seek help sooner.
  • Donate £3 per month to Guts UK Charity. For the price of a cuppa, you can change and save lives.

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