IBS awareness month
1st April 2017
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.
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.