IBS - It's More Common Than You Think

Posted by Kate at 2:33 PM on Oct 25, 2021

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IBS is a common digestive disorder, affecting between 10 – 20% of people. It is certainly the health issue I see most of in my clinic! Some studies even estimate that up to 30% of people will experience symptoms in their lifetime. That is a lot of people – so rest assured, if you are experiencing symptoms, you are not alone! It is very likely that someone you know is either experiencing IBS or has done in the past. Given the stigma around talking about our health when it comes to digestion and faeces, they may just be hiding it.

It comprises of a number of symptoms such as bloating, abdominal pain and cramping, diarrhoea, constipation, extra flatulence and mucous (a jelly-like looking substance) in the stool. In fact around 1/3 suffer constipation, 1/3 diarrhoea and 1/3 are what we term “mixed” which comprises both constipation and diarrhoea. Other symptoms which can accompany IBS, but aren’t related to digestion include fatigue and bladder issues. Someone who suffers from IBS may have a couple of these symptoms or all of them. Symptoms usually beginning between the ages of 20-40 and are more common in women. I should mention here that if you are experiencing blood in your stool, then you should contact your GP as this is not a normal IBS symptom and should be investigated further.

There is no single cause for IBS, but it is often seen after a bout of food poisoning (which can affect the cells which aid in the movement and cleansing of the small intestine known as the interstitial cells of Cajal). Other factors that can increase the likelihood of a bout include bacterial dysbiosis (too many “unfriendly” bacteria), stress, certain drugs and diet. Unlike some other digestive disorders, there does not seem to be a genetic component.

Just as there is no one cause for IBS, so there isn’t one “treatment” either. It is a complex disorder and should be treated as such, looking at your body as a whole before embarking on an appropriate plan to support your gastrointestinal health. As a naturopathic practitioner, I believe that it is important to look at all aspects of someone’s health when putting together a plan and this is no different when someone comes to see me with IBS. I always find it intriguing that I can have 2 people come to see me with what seems to be, on the surface, the same symptoms and yet after chatting to them around all aspects of their health, they will leave with 2 very different plans!

So, if you are experiencing symptoms of IBS and would like to see if naturopathic nutrition may be able to help, please feel free to get in touch. I’m happy to chat with you beforehand to go through any questions you may have.

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