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What is IBS?

IBS, also known as irritable bowel, spastic colon, mucous colitis, or spastic colitis, can show-up with symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation. 

It's a chronic condition affecting the digestive system, twice as common in women compared to men. It's important to note that IBS is different from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) as it doesn't cause inflammation.

Around 10% to 20% of people in the UK and 10% to 15% in the US live with IBS. It usually starts in young people, but anyone can get it. It's less common for IBS to begin after age 50.

These symptoms can come and go, lasting for days, weeks, or even months.

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What are the available treatment options for IBS in the UK?

In the UK, various medications are available to treat IBS symptoms. These medications work in different ways to provide relief. Doctors may recommend combining these medications to personalize treatment for each patient.

Treatment for IBS varies based on symptoms and severity, and can include medications, dietary changes, and lifestyle adjustments.

Healthy diet

Food can have a significant impact on conditions like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) due to its influence on gastrointestinal function and symptom severity.

To manage IBS symptoms, follow a healthy diet outlined in the NHS Eatwell guide. Adjust as needed based on food triggers.

Here are some eating instructions to minimize IBS symptoms include:

  • Eat slowly, maintain regular meal times,
  • Drink at least 8 cups of water a day, avoid late-night eating, limit fizzy drinks, alcohol, tea, and coffee
  • Try to keep a food diary (helps track what you eat and your symptoms).

Consider a low FODMAP diet, consulting a dietitian for guidance. You can check the NHS video and IBS Network website for more info on IBS and diet.




What are the symptoms of IBS?

IBS symptoms can vary from person to person, but some of the most common signs include:

Digestive issues:

  • Constipation, diarrhea, or a mix of both
  • Abdominal pain or cramping, normally relieved by having a bowel movement
  • Abnormal bowel habits, such as urgency to go or incomplete emptying
  • Passing mucus in stool

Discomfort and bloating:

Gas, bloating, and distention (swelling of the abdomen)

Other symptoms:

  • Feeling tired
  • Nausea (feeling sick)
  • Backache
  • Bladder problems like urgency or difficulty urinating

How IBS can affect bowel habits?

  • Around a third of IBS patients experience constipation (a problem with passing stool) most often.
  • Another third experience diarrhea (stools are loose and watery) most often.
  • The remaining third experience a combination of both, unpredictably.


  • At what age does IBS typically happen?

    Most Common: IBS often begins in people under 40 years old, with symptoms starting in their teens or early adulthood.

    Can Occur at Any Age: Although less common, it's essential to know that IBS can appear at any point in life, including after age 50.

    Age as a Red Flag: If IBS symptoms emerge after age 50, it's recommended to consult a doctor to rule out other possible causes.

  • Who does IBS affect more, women or men?

    Women often experience more frequent and severe IBS symptoms during menstruation, including loose stools, bloating, and worsening abdominal pain.

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