IBS is a debilitating condition that affects around 20% of the UK population —that’s about 12 million people. It is a very individual condition and symptoms vary for each person.

Symptoms can include abdominal pain, bloating, increased flatulence, diarrhoea, constipation, mixed diarrhoea/constipation and passing mucus. Other symptoms include lethargy, nausea, backache and bladder symptoms. If you are experiencing these symptoms, make sure you get a diagnosis from your GP, do not self-diagnose.

IBS tends to affect more women than men (about two thirds are women) and affects people of all ages. More research is needed into this area, but the role of hormones and menopause can have an impact on gut health. The condition tends to start in a person’s teenage years and their twenties and may persist on and off throughout life, often depending on what is happening — although people can develop IBS at any time in their life.

There is no cure for IBS and no one treatment that works for everyone.

The key to living well with IBS is self-management. Once you have a better understanding of what is happening in your body you will be able to explore what treatments work best for you.

Treatments include dietary and lifestyle changes; psychological therapies (talking therapies); and medications (see your GP or pharmacist for advice). These may be used together or on their own depending on the possible cause and severity of your IBS.

What help is available?

If you are experiencing IBS symptoms, it is important to get a diagnosis. Please make an appointment with your GP.

Once you have a diagnosis, The IBS Network is the national charity supporting people with IBS to live well with the condition. We are here to help and support you. You are not alone.