When people think of irritable bowel syndrome, they usually assume it only affects the bowel and stomach, but IBS can affect much more than just your gut.
The really characteristic symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain and altered bowel habit. For some that might mean constipation, or IBS-C, while for others it might be diarrhoea (IBS-D). It’s not unusual for IBS sufferers to alternate between the two over time or even in the same day.
Bloating is also another very common gastrointestinal symptom of IBS.
But what about symptoms that don’t involve the gut? There’s a well-known link between stress and IBS, so it may not surprise you that anxiety and depression are common symptoms of IBS. You may also experience tiredness and some people describe a kind of ‘brain fog’ that makes it harder to concentrate.
There’s also a strong association between IBS and fibromyalgia, so some people with IBS may experience muscle aches and joint pain.
Take a look at the infographic below for a broad overview of IBS symptoms or read more on what is IBS in our Self-Care Programme.