Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

The facts about Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS is a very common bowel condition – up to 20% of the population1 experience IBS symptoms at some point in their lives, and it can be prolonged over years.

What causes IBS?

The exact cause of IBS is not fully understood but what we do know is that those who suffer have an extra sensitive bowel, leading to the symptoms associated with IBS. Here are the most common factors which can make your bowel become more sensitive:

  • Stress
  • There’s a general opinion that IBS can be aggravated by stress and anxiety. In particular stressful situations, such as divorce, bereavement or problems at work, can affect the natural rhythm of your digestive system.
  • Illness
  • IBS can also be brought on by illness. For example, if you contracted a severe gastrointestinal infection (such as dysentery) in the past and you now experience persistent problems with your bowel, it’s possible that the infection was at the root of the IBS.
  • Diet
  • IBS can also be triggered by a diet that’s low in fibre and high in fat and refined foods. The way you eat is a factor too: eating ‘on the run’ and not having regular meal times will affect the way your bowel works.
  • Hormones
  • For women, hormonal changes such as during menstruation can also make IBS symptoms worse.

IBS symptoms

IBS is a complex condition and can often be difficult to diagnose. Part of the problem is that symptoms can vary from person to person. The most common symptoms are listed below but sufferers may not experience all of these:

  • Cramp-like abdominal pain
  • Fullness and bloating
  • Painful spasms
  • Knotting cramps
  • Flatulence
  • Persistent constipation and/or diarrhoea
  • Feeling like you haven’t completely emptied your bowels
  • Passing mucus as well as stools

If you think you are suffering from IBS, the best thing to do is see your GP for a proper diagnosis. For more useful advice on managing IBS see our IBS tips section.


1 NICE Clinical Practise Guideline. Irritable bowel syndrome in adults: Diagnosis and management of irritable bowel syndrome in primary care. February 2008.

 

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Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use IMODIUM® to treat the diarrhoea associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

IMODIUM® Instants can be used to treat short-lived bouts of IBS-related diarrhoea. However, it is important that you see your doctor first for a proper diagnosis.

To find out more, visit our IBS Treatment section.

When I experience diarrhoea, I also get cramps, feel bloated and suffer from wind. What can I take to treat all these symptoms?

Many people find that diarrhoea comes with other unpleasant symptoms, such as stomach cramps, wind and bloating. These are caused by excess gas in the gut. IMODIUM® Plus has an added ingredient to tackle this, as well as treating the diarrhoea, so it provides a more complete relief than other IMODIUM® products. IMODIUM® Plus is available in easy to swallow tablets.

Why do I always seem to suffer from diarrhoea when I eat and drink large amounts?

Overeating and drinking can upset our digestive system and lead to diarrhoea. So, always try to eat sensibly and avoid excess! However, if diarrhoea does occur, one dose of IMODIUM® can quickly relieve the symptoms and help you get your body back in harmony again.

Glossary
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

A common gastrointestinal disorder, characterised by abdominal pain, bloating, mucus in stools, and irregular bowel habits, with alternating diarrhoea and constipation.

Stools

Also known colloquially as ‘poo’; this is the solid waste matter that passes through the rectum, in the form of bowel movements. Stools are made up of undigested food, bacteria, mucus, and dead cells.

Menstruation

The periodic blood that is discharged from the uterus, occurring at approximately 4 week intervals, making up the menstrual cycle.