What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

IBS is a common bowel problem associated with bloating, constipation, flatulence and stomach pain, as well as nausea, fatigue, headaches and bladder problems.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects 1 in 5 people in the UK and can have a huge impact on the lives of its sufferers. While people of all ages can experience this digestive disorder, young women are most commonly diagnosed.

IBS is associated with the whole spectrum of digestive complaints, from flatulence, bloating and constipation to diarrhoea and stomach pain.

Most of these symptoms seem to be the result of the muscles in your large intestine contracting faster or slower than normal. If you have IBS, it’s likely that the nerves of your gut are simply more sensitive than they should be, and can be agitated by certain foods or psychological issues such as depression, anxiety and stress.

Other things associated with IBS include nausea, fatigue, headaches and bladder problems. Occasionally, people experience dizziness, muscle and joint pain, ringing in the ears and shortness of breath.

What is IBS like for you? The type of symptoms and their severity vary from person to person. It may be a constant feature of your life—and a source of embarrassment, pain, discomfort and anxiety. Or you may experience milder symptoms that flare up from time to time.

The wide range of symptoms and the variation in how they are experienced can make it a very difficult condition to diagnose. There is no single medical test able to identify IBS, and usually a diagnosis will involve ruling out every other possibility first—from coeliac disease to inflammatory bowel disease.



Back to Health Concerns

Back to the top