Sheffield based charity, The IBS Network, breaking the ‘poo taboo’ and helping thousands of IBS suff
1st March 2018

Sheffield based charity, The IBS Network, breaking the ‘poo taboo’ and helping thousands of IBS suff

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (or IBS) is a condition that affects thousands of people in the South Yorkshire area alone and around 12 million people across the UK, but many sufferers are often too embarrassed to talk about it. The IBS Network, the national charity supporting people living with this chronic condition, is hosting its second national IBS conference on 14 April 2018 in Sheffield where the charity began over 26 years ago, to encourage people to seek help.

For many sufferers, IBS can lead to feelings of isolation and cause major problems in people’s working and personal lives. It is estimated that Britain’s businesses lose almost £3 billion every year through sick days related to gut health.

Claire, who’s in her 40s and lives in Chesterfield, has suffered with IBS for over 20 years but was only diagnosed four years ago after being referred to a Gastroenterologist following many tests. She feels that “IBS isn’t life threatening but living with it can certainly be life changing.”

Her symptoms vary but mainly consist of cramping and pain in the gut and the need to rush to the toilet. “I constantly had a gut that felt slightly ‘on the edge’ almost like a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. I would massively bloat throughout the day, and by 4pm I could no longer do up my jeans, start to feel lethargic, have headaches and feel weak after flare-ups and generally feel like my brain was on ‘go-slow’.”

Claire found that avoiding certain types of food and drink helped but stress and anxiety also triggered her IBS attacks. She finds: “When living with a long-term condition, especially an ‘invisible’ one like IBS can be really difficult. People think we look well but it’s difficult to struggle day to day through work, home relationships, explaining to friends and I found myself becoming more and more isolated.”

Over the years, Claire has learned to research the condition using online resources, having felt dismissed by her GPs. By educating herself, gaining support from The IBS Network charity and asking to be referred to a Dietitian while following a specialist low-FODMAP diet, she has slowly worked out what triggers her own IBS symptoms. Eliminating certain foods such as onion, garlic, lactose and fructose, as well as taking peppermint capsules and probiotics have also helped her.

Claire added: “I am a member of The IBS Network charity and I wish I’d found them much earlier in my quest to find out what was going on in my body. They have loads of up to date trustworthy information, provide access to medical experts, sensitive gut recipes and local support groups where you can get together with others who truly understand.”

Most people with IBS have a sensitive gut and symptoms can be triggered by stress, as well as diet, mood, or lifestyle changes. However, given the right support and guidance, people can help relieve their symptoms through self-management, although this is not a quick and simple process.

If you have been diagnosed with IBS or are a healthcare professional interested in attending The IBS Network’s conference at Sheffield Hallam University, tickets can be bought from £5 via the charity’s website, or call 0114 272 3253.

To join or donate to the charity, visit  

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