IBS thought to affect one in five people in UK

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is thought to affect up to one in five people at some point in their life and awareness of the condition is being raised in the Nene Clinical Commissioning Group (Nene CCG) area as part of IBS Awareness Month which runs through April.

The symptoms for the condition vary between individuals and may affect some people more severely than others – the main symptoms tend to be bouts of stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation.  The condition usually develops when patients are aged between 20 and 30 years of age and it affects twice as many women as men.  Once diagnosed the condition is often life-long, although it may improve over several years.

Nene CCG are asking patients if they think they may be suffering with IBS to contact their doctor who may be able to identify the condition based on the symptoms although blood tests may be needed to rule out other conditions.

IBS is unpredictable and patients may go for many months without a flare up. Suffering from the condition does not increase the chances of developing cancer of other bowel-related conditions.  More information can be found at www.nhs.uk

Dr Darin Seiger of Nene CCG said:

“Anyone who thinks they may be suffering from IBS should contact their GP.  The exact cause of the condition is unknown but is it thought to be related to increased sensitivity of the gut and problems digesting food.  These problems may mean that patients are more sensitive to aping from the gut which may result in constipation or diarrhoea, sometimes stress may also be a factor. 

Although there is no cure patients may find it helps to identify and avoid foods that trigger symptoms, alter the amount of fibre in their diet, exercise regularly and reduce stress levels.  In some cases it may be necessary to prescribe medication to treat individual symptoms”