Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a long-term condition affecting the digestive system that generally develops at some point between the ages of 20 and 30. It affects both men and women, although twice as many women are affected by IBS.
There are lots of symptoms associated with IBS. You may experience a few of the symptoms, or you may experience many. You might also find that your symptoms vary significantly from one IBS flare up to another.
Common signs of IBS include:
- A change in bowel habits
- Experiencing a sudden need to go to the toilet
- Feeling like you can’t completely empty your bowel when you go to the toilet
- Passing mucus when you go to the toilet
People with IBS typically find that they experience either diarrhoea or constipation, but you may also find that your condition varies between the two.
Other additional symptoms can include:
- Lack of energy
- Feeling the need to urinate more frequently, or all of a sudden
When Do IBS Symptoms Occur?
IBS symptoms are often at their worst after a meal, but they can occur at any time of day. You may experience bloating after eating or need to go to the toilet a short while after eating a meal.
It could be that a particular food is triggering your symptoms, so try keeping a food diary in which you note down what you’ve eaten and what symptoms (if any) you’ve experienced. This will help you eliminate any trigger foods from your diet.
You may also find that stress and anxiety can cause IBS symptoms. Avoiding stressful situations where possible and taking time to relax can help to minimise symptoms.
What To Do If You Experience IBS Symptoms
If you find yourself experiencing IBS symptoms and you’ve not already been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you should see your GP. IBS shares symptoms with other illnesses and conditions, so your doctor will only give an IBS diagnosis after eliminating other possibilities.