7 signs you might have IBS and what to do
Believe it or not, 75% of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may be undiagnosed. IBS can majorly affect your life and there is nothing worse than not knowing what is causing your health issues. Luckily, there are effective treatments for IBS, so a diagnosis could really help you get the care you need. Here are the top 7 signs which may point towards the fact you have IBS.
1. You have regular tummy pain
This is the defining sign. On average, if you experience tummy pain once a week, you may have IBS. It can be more for some people and less for others, but the tummy pain is not a one-off. To be diagnosed with IBS, most people will have experienced weekly tummy pain for at least three months.
The pain can be an intense pressure or an ache. Some also experience a cramping pain in their abdomen (this feels like a sudden muscle contraction which comes in rhythmic bursts).
Pain is very distressing but luckily, from lifestyle changes to hypnotherapy, there are ways to treat it.
2. Your tummy pain gets better or worse once you poop
Do you feel waves of pain relief flowing through your body after you open your bowels? This is a key symptom of IBS. Although this is common, there is another group of people where the opposite happens! For these people, opening their bowels can make the symptoms worse and may induce a flare-up of pain! This is particularly difficult because it can make you scared to try to poop and can thus cause a cycle of constipation. Either way, if your tummy pain changes for the better or the worse following a bowel motion… you might have IBS.
3. Eating certain foods triggers tummy pain or changes in your bowel habit
Ever thought you’re intolerant to certain foods? Or maybe you feel like your tummy is “sensitive”? People with IBS will often identify food triggers which flare up their symptoms but most will not have a food allergy. Yet, when they eat certain foods, they get tummy pains, bloating or notice a change in their bowel habit.
The IBS tummy can be a lot more sensitive to food in general. Some of us may identify certain foods which really give us tummy pains and for some of us, it can feel like all food types trigger symptoms to some degree! This sign can cause anxiety when trying new food types or struggling to find foods which will not trigger symptoms.
4. You feel bloated all the time
Feeling like your abdomen is tight and tense? Or maybe your clothes become very tight around the waist after a meal? Bloating is an especially common symptom for women with IBS. Bloating can occur at any time but is more common after eating a meal. It doesn’t have to be particularly large, but with an IBS tummy, it can cause a big bloat. This unpleasant feeling can knock people’s confidence, especially when wearing fitted clothes.
5. You suffer from excess wind
Although everyone expels wind and it can be normal to expel up to 15 times a day, those with IBS are bothered by this a lot more! They may also notice that the wind is more smelly. This symptom can be particularly embarrassing. Having your tummy rumble so that other people can hear it or being afraid that people may notice suffering from excess wind can trigger stress and anxiety. Not fun!
6. You have constipation or diarrhoea (or both!)
This is another classical sign of IBS. People typically experience either frequent bouts of constipation or diarrhoea associated with tummy pain.
With constipation, there will be a reduction in the number of bowel motions or increased difficulty in opening the bowels, such as straining. This group is termed IBS-C. Some people will also feel like they haven’t completely emptied their bowels even though they’ve passed a motion.
With diarrhoea, people will poop more frequently or with a looser consistency of stool. This group is termed IBS-D. Some people may also feel a real urge for the toilet and feel they may have an accident due to their IBS.
There can be people who have a mixture of both constipation and diarrhoea and may even alternate between the two, and this is termed IBS-M.
7. Your tummy pain causes changes to your bowel motions
With a flare-up of IBS, you can notice increased mucus in your stools, changes in colour to your poop or changes in form e.g watery, lumpy or hard. Importantly though, people with IBS should rarely find blood in their stool - and if they do, they should see a doctor as soon as possible. But other changes like mucus are quite common.
Dealing with IBS
So what now? Firstly, if you have IBS, the good news is there is a lot of support out there and here at Zemedy, we are dedicated to helping you overcome IBS and trust your gut again. Although IBS can affect your life massively, it is not life-threatening, and with advances in science, we are learning how to manage, control and even cure it.
If you have any of these symptoms, speak to your doctor about them - some of these signs may indicate another health problem and only your doctor can diagnose you. It’s always best to talk to your doctor and find the correct diagnosis. But remember, team Zemedy is here to help you on your IBS journey right from the start!
To begin your journey to living IBS free and trust your gut, download Zemedy today and start seeing results in as soon as 6 weeks.