What's in the News
Read all the latest news on Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), including press releases, articles, blogs, events, campaigns and research.
If you're a journalist and want to find out more about The IBS Network charity, please email our Communication Manager or call 0114 272 3253.
Help us win £150 in the #ILoveSmallCharities competition
Small Charity Week launches on 19 June, raising awareness of the work of all small charities across the UK.
You can help us to win £150 in this year’s #ILoveSmallCharities Small Charity Week competitions just by posting a message on Twitter. The competition is open from 19-24 June.
The charity that gets the most messages of support on their social media channel wins a £150 donation.
It’s really easy to enter your message:
1.Take a photo of yourself holding up a poster with the following text: “I love (charity name) because (why you love us)”. We have a template you can use here.
2. Upload the poster photo to Twitter.
For Twitter entries, tweet your photo message, making sure you mention @IBSnetwork and the #ILoveSmallCharities hashtag. You should also mention @SCWeek2017 in your tweet so all of our entries are acknowledged and counted.
So, get creative and tell the world why you love us between 19-24 June. Please note any messages of love submitted outside these dates won’t be counted.
Thanks for your support!
Chair of the Board of Trustees
The IBS Network is the UK’s national charity for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), an illness that affects about 12 million people in the UK. Its mission is to inform, advise and support people living with IBS and work alongside health services to facilitate IBS self-management.
The IBS Network is expanding its activities and wishes to recruit a locally based Chair of Trustees to strengthen its current Board and determine the charity’s strategy for growth. We are looking for a person with senior-level leadership skills and an enthusiasm to work alongside patients and health care professionals to make a difference to the lives of people with IBS. We welcome applicants who have worked at a senior management level in the third sector, public services or commercial organisations, some knowledge of health care and IBS would also be useful, but by no means essential.
Trustee meetings are currently held bi-monthly in Sheffield. You would be expected to attend at least 75% of the meetings per year plus occasional events with key stakeholders. You will serve an initial term of three years and be eligible for re-appointment at this time.
This is a voluntary position, but your expenses will be fully reimbursed.
For more background information, please visit www.theibsnetwork.org and email firstname.lastname@example.org
Living and Looking For Lavatories
Lauren White, The University of Sheffield
It may be a turn of the stomach, a nervous flutter, a morning coffee or a sudden, unpredictable rush. You may look for a sign, if you are lucky enough to live in a society where they are readily available. There may or may not be a queue, often depending on the room of your gender. You may look for disabled access, whether you are in a wheelchair or have an invisible illness. You may select a space based on who is there, or your perception of its cleanliness. For some, it is an unwritten rule that one cannot go next to another person relieving themselves. What are you looking for?
Also known as a toilet, bog, ladies, gents, pisspot, restroom, dunny, convenience, powder room, and the WC, to name a few alternatives.
Toilets are mundane, an everyday space, a common fixture in the home and the workplace, a thing that we all use, in diverse ways. Toilets have historically been (and continue to be) shaped by our cultures, gender, social class and ethnicity with clear boundaries, distinctions and divisions imposed. This, in turn, shapes our social identities.
Toilets are a personal thing; a private side of life that is rarely discussed. If we do disclose our habits or toilet trips we do so with hesitation, euphemisms or a nervous giggle. However, toilets are a very public issue. They are in department stores, coffee shops, pubs, restaurants and on trains. There is a declining number of public toilets, now often vandalised and abandoned, perceived as unhygienic, or a place of illegal activity and other “hazards”.
Toilets are a source of interaction, of social structures, organisation, norms and values. So why aren’t sociologists discussing them more?
I have a bowel problem. I live with an unpredictable bowel, one that changes every day, with symptoms ranging from abdominal pain to bloating and urgency to find a toilet. Bowel conditions are not socially accepted and discussed conditions: a disclosure is often regarded as “too much information”. The anxiety of the symptoms and the urgent need to use toilets led me to toilet mapping: making mental notes of the nearest toilets, and the quickest way to get to them. Toilets became not just a functional space, but also a place of safety and relief, in more than one sense.
I am not alone. There are a variety of conditions for which knowledge of toilet locations are I am not alone. There are a variety of conditions for which knowledge of toilet locations are crucial for managing symptoms – conditions such as bladder incontinence, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), for example. My PhD research is focusing on the common condition of IBS. According to NHS Choices, 20% of the UK population lives with IBS – arguably more, given the concealment of the condition. Despite this, bowel conditions and the symptoms of constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence, (in)continence and other activities that take place in the “private” realm of the toilets remain heavily taboo topics in contemporary western society.
My research explores the lived experience of managing symptoms of IBS, particularly in the spaces where symptoms are mostly managed: the bathroom.
My research examines how places such as toilets can be reflective of our practices of privacy and containment of our bodily excretions. We may divide ourselves and our relations to each other in such a way that makes life with conditions such as IBS incredibly isolating. This means that the coping strategies and challenges faced in the day-to-day life of people who live with these conditions are underappreciated, hidden and, crucially, misunderstood.
Some would argue that bathrooms and toilets are the backstage of social life. However, there are many performances still going on within the toilet cubicle: the holding on until another person has left the toilet; waiting until the hand dryer goes on; blaming the time spent in the toilet on a fictional queue. Whilst this may seem an obvious behaviour of privacy and dignity, the strategies of toilet mapping and negotiating toilet spaces to keep one’s IBS identity private question the boundaries of society, the public and the private, the clean and the dirty, self and other.
In discussing my research, I often face a reception of pure horror, a nervous laugh or a joke, but very rarely an open, honest, discussion of our own bowel habits and toilet behaviours. The awkwardness around the topic creates greater challenges for those living with bowel conditions, and reinforces stigma. Some may laugh at the fact I talk about poo and toilets in my academic life. There may be banter about bowels, a joke that I need a colon in my future research papers or conference presentations. But is the difficulty of living with an unpredictable bowel in an unaccommodating society really that funny? It’s time to talk shit.
Lauren White is a ESRC funded PhD Student at the University of Sheffield studying everyday life with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). You can find her at: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/socstudies/postgraduate-research-students/lauren-white
Her piece was joint winner of this year’s Economic and Social Research Council writing competition, held in conjunction with Sage publishing. The other winning entries can be read on the Guardian’s Notes & Theories blog.
IBS Awareness month
During IBS Awareness Month, The IBS Network charity supported the promotion of ASDA Pharmacy’s digestive health campaign nationwide. This was to provide easy-to-understand advice and tips that people can take away with them whilst they were in-store for their weekly shop. The campaign aimed to open-up the conversation about IBS - how to spot the symptoms and what steps you can take to alleviate it, so we can all better understand how to make life easier for those who need the support. ASDA Pharmacy’s digestive health event ran in-store from 1 – 24 April. A series of radio interviews and press coverage with ASDA and The IBS Network spokespeople has been generated, as a result.
Click on the links below for full details of all media coverage.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Sufferers Miss Nine Days of Work a Year Due to “Debilitating” Illness
- 4 in 10 IBS sufferers regularly take time off work, with an average of nine days a year
- Almost three-quarters (70%) say IBS is a “debilitating” medical condition that occupies their lives daily
- Almost 1 in 3 people in the UK say they suffer from IBS, more than the current estimate
- 6 in 10 have never sought professional help due to embarrassment
- ASDA Pharmacies to hold a digestive health event instore from 1-24 April to mark IBS Awareness Month in April
New research by ASDA has brought to light just how common irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is in the UK, with almost 1 in 3 people suffering from the condition – more than the current estimates.
The study revealed that 4 in 10 IBS sufferers regularly take time off work for their condition, with an average of nine days a year due to the symptoms brought on by IBS, which includes abdominal pain or cramping, bloating, flatulence and constipation.
In addition to the physical impact of not being able to attend work, sufferers disclosed the extent to which the condition impacts other areas of their daily lives, with the avoidance of certain activities until a more suitable time:
Fitness activities (26%)
Travelling on a plane or train (24%)
Being intimate with a partner (23%)
Attending a social event e.g. party, festival (19%)
Going on a date (17%)
Sufferers also highlighted the hidden mental stress associated with their symptoms and cited the thoughts that most occupy their minds daily:
Having total privacy (completely enclosed spaces) in the bathroom (28%)
Timing meals around times when there is easy access to facilities (21%)
Having to avoid certain foods, especially in situations where choice is unavailable (17%)
Finding time in the day to avoid work or high-stress situations that can bring on symptoms without managers noticing absence (11%)
Not being able to take painkillers in situations (i.e. meetings, presentations) when a bout of symptoms come on
Anxiety and stress is a key factor in triggering IBS with almost three-quarters stating that it exacerbates their symptoms.
Despite 7 in 10 sufferers stating that they find their condition “debilitating”, 6 in 10 have never sought professional help through a GP, instead choosing to manage the condition as best they can themselves. Over half (57%) said that the embarrassment of talking about it has held them back, even causing them to keep the condition hidden from friends and colleagues.
Alison Reid, CEO of The IBS Network comments:
“IBS affects between 10 and 20% of the population, that’s about 12 million people. The condition can mean feelings of isolation through an inability to leave the house for fear of an accident, cancelled holidays, and days off work. The stress caused by the distress of these symptoms, worry of losing job, the humiliation of an accident, can make the condition worse; which creates a vicious circle. Pharmacists play a key role in signposting people with IBS symptoms to see their GP for a diagnosis. Our members have reported that talking openly about their condition with people who understand really helps them break this cycle supporting them in taking control of their IBS. Through our work, the charity is challenging the ‘poo taboo’.”
Faisal Tuddy, Asda’s Superintendent Pharmacist Pharmacy comments:
“As with any health condition, removing the stigma and embarrassment associated with it is important in encouraging sufferers to seek help so they can better manage and cope with their symptoms. IBS symptoms can be managed with a few easy-to-incorporate lifestyle changes so it needn’t be a stressful experience.
To mark IBS Awareness Month in April, ASDA Pharmacies, backed by The IBS Network, the national charity supporting people living with IBS, will be hosting a digestive health campaign nationwide to provide easy-to-understand advice and tips that people can conveniently take away with them whilst they’re in-store for their weekly shop. It’s key to open up the conversation about IBS - how to spot the symptoms and what steps you can take to alleviate it, so we can all better understand how to make life easier for those who need the support. ASDA Pharmacy’s digestive health event will run in-store from 1 – 24 April.”
IBS is a long-standing illness consisting of frequent abdominal discomfort and bowel symptoms which cannot be explained by any other disease. Symptoms can be complex and conflicting but include constipation, diarrhoea, abdominal cramps and pain and bloating. Other common symptoms that may be associated with IBS include tiredness, nausea, heartburn and indigestion, backache, needing to pass urine frequently, headaches, muscle pain, anxiety and depression. It can lead to feelings of isolation and cause major problems in people’s working and personal lives.
About the research
Independent research commissioned by Asda Pharmacy, conducted by Atomik Research. 2,003 people aged 18-65 in the UK were surveyed in March 2017.
Media coverage during IBS awareness month
During IBS Awareness Month, The IBS Network charity supported the promotion of ASDA Pharmacy’s digestive health campaign nationwide. This was to provide easy-to-understand advice and tips that people can take away with them whilst they were in-store for their weekly shop. The campaign aimed to open-up the conversation about IBS - how to spot the symptoms and what steps you can take to alleviate it, so we can all better understand how to make life easier for those who need the support. ASDA Pharmacy’s digestive health event ran in-store from 1 – 24 April. A series of radio interviews and press coverage with ASDA and The IBS Network spokespeople has been generated, as a result. Click on the links below for full details of all media coverage.
Beyond Fabulous, 6 April 2017
The Mirror Online, 13 April 2017
Huffington Post, 13 April 2017
The Mirror Online, 17 April 2017
The Sun, 20 April 2017
The Scottish Sun, 20 April 2017
BT.com, 21 April 2017
Boots WebMD April 2017
'How to talk about your IBS with diarrhoea': click here for the article featuring comments from our CEO Alison Reid and one of our members.
Hippocratic Post 7 May 2017
'Challenging diagnosis for IBS': read full interview with Dr Simon Smale.