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Are you silently suffering with IBS?

Rachel Lett, RNutr

Chief Care Officer


The quick read :

  • IBS is a common condition that causes disordered and uncomfortable digestion and bowel movements
  • The underlying cause of IBS appears to be gut and mental health
  • The first line of treatment for IBS is restoring gut and mental health
  • Common symptoms of IBS include, abdominal pain; cramping; diarrhoea; constipation; bloating; food intolerance; fatigue; poor sleep; anxiety; depression; mucousy stool and anal irritation

Do you ever find yourself pegging it to the bathroom more often than normal? Perhaps you've got the opposite problem, where you patiently sit and wait and hope that something will happen.

Or you might even have a combination of the both — sometimes urgent, and sometimes you wait for days.

If you're living with an unpredictable bowel, then you might be suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

What is IBS?

IBS is a common condition that causes disordered and uncomfortable digestion and bowel movements. It is normally diagnosed when other digestive issues (crohns, colitis and coeliac disease) have been ruled out.

Recent estimates suggest that IBS affects one in five people, and is one of the leading causes of work absenteeism (second after the common cold!).

Only 15% of people who are diagnosed with IBS actually seek treatment. This means that most of the people around you are silently suffering with cruel symptoms of IBS.

This disorder is incredibly isolating. The only time we ever talk about bowel motions is if it's packaged in a joke. I'll be one of the first to laugh at a farty gag, but we need to put this aside and create an open, comfortable space to discuss all things poo related.

What Causes IBS?

IBS is poorly understood, but it appears to be deeply connected with the gut-brain axis.

The gut and brain are closely intertwined and their communication is bidirectional — the health of one, has a profound effect on the other.

Promising research shows that dealing with gut and mental health issues can offer significant relief from IBS.

Mental Health

Our thoughts and emotions have a direct effect on our bowel movements.

You'll know this to be true if you've ever felt butterflies or nervous feeling in your tummy — a nearby loo is your first port of call.

For this reason, stress and anxiety can be significant triggers for IBS symptoms.

Stress reducing techniques like exercise, deep breathing and meditation can help control IBS symptoms.

Gut Health

IBS sufferers often present with leaky gut (perforations in the gut lining) and gut dysbiosis (an imbalanced of the type and number of bacteria in the gut).

An unhealthy gut causes disruptive bowel activity, hypersensitivity to certain foods and has a direct affect on our mental wellbeing. This is why people with IBS often experience depression and anxiety — it's not just about angry bowels.

The integrity of our gut lining and our gut microflora (bacteria and yeast that reside in our intestine) play a crucial role in IBS symptoms.

Restoring gut health to its natural balance is an effective method for naturally treating IBS.

Warning signs of IBS

IBS symptoms are varied, and can be different for everyone. Here are some symptoms to look out for.

Symptoms of IBS

  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Gas & Bloating
  • Food intolerance
  • Fatigue
  • Poor sleep or insomnia
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Mucous in stool
  • Anal soreness or irritation

IBS symptoms can be an indication of other illnesses. If you identify with any of the above warning signs or experience unusual digestion, then it's important to mention it to your doctor. They will be able to run some test and confirm diagnosis.

If you've been diagnosed with IBS, then book a consultation or download the app. We will work with you to define a treatment plan, so that you can live a happy, symptom-free life, with reliable bowels.

Like what you’re hearing?

Stay tuned for more guides, to help you with your health journey.

If you’re interested in joining Span, download our mobile app on, contact us at , or book a consultation

Take care, 👋

I’m sure you’re curious about the science behind all this 🔬 Here are some recent medical publications about this topic:

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