IBS Awareness Month: What Having IBS Is Really Like

13 April 2022

For the entire month of April, we look at and recognise Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, as being an illness that many of us suffer from on a day-to-day basis. First introduced by the United States National Health Observances, this month of awareness has made it across the globe and now many of us look to learn more about IBS during this month.  In this article, we will be looking at why we should be raising awareness around IBS and how we can do so. 

Why Should We Be Bringing More Awareness To IBS?

So, why should we be raising awareness around IBS? There are many, many reasons why more people should know about this illness, including how common it is. It’s more likely than not, that you know someone close to you that has Irritable Bowel Syndrome and suffers from the symptoms that come with it. IBS is more common in women, but it still can affect men as well, and more than that, it can affect any age group. Whether you are a child, teenager, adult, or even elderly, IBS can still impact your day-to-day life. In the UK alone, between one and two in every ten people are thought to have IBS, whether they be diagnosed or not. It’s important that we not only raise awareness of the symptoms of this illness but also how common it is. 

Another reason why we should all be raising awareness is because of the symptoms of IBS. The most common symptoms are: 

  • Cramping
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Bloating 
  • Gas
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation

This range of symptoms is usually with people all the time and can be affected by things we can’t avoid, such as what we eat and any daily stressors. Many people have to go on a strict low FODMAP diet, where food is controlled to prevent any flare-ups. Also, stress is a big element. Sometimes stress can cause these symptoms to worsen, especially diarrhoea and constipation. 

Raising awareness can also allow people to feel less alone in their illness. IBS, like many conditions, can seem extremely isolating and can not only affect people physically but also their mental well-being. By talking about it and raising awareness around the subject, we can reduce the stigma surrounding the condition, meaning that patients will feel all the more comfortable talking about their symptoms. We all go to the bathroom – let’s talk about it!

Finally, we need to raise awareness because there is no direct cure. People who feel they may have this illness will have to go to their general practitioner and get diagnosed with the condition, as there are a few different types of IBS. After, a treatment plan can be worked out. For example, if you have IBS-C, you may be recommended to add more fiber to your diet. For the most part, the ways to manage IBS are natural. Such as exercising more to promote a healthy digestive system, following a low FODMAP diet, and looking for more gut-friendly meals. There is currently no cure because conventional medicine does not know how to discuss diseases that can start from completely separate and varied causes. As there are no exact same IBS symptoms from person to person and they can be triggered by a dozen different root causes, there is not one single treatment for this illness.

How Can We Raise Awareness Of IBS?

Raising awareness is vital to getting more information surrounding IBS and ways in which to prevent flare-ups of this illness. Whilst there are no preventive measures we can take or a direct cure we use to get rid of it, there are many ways that we can speak on this illness to help educate people further. 

We can support brands that are trying to make a difference in this field. There are not a lot of brands on the market right now that focus on producing gut-friendly foods, which support a healthy immune system for sufferers of IBS. Here at Slightly Different Foods, we know how frustrating it can be when it comes to home cooking, so that’s why our range is made with IBS symptoms and flare-ups in mind. 

Another way to raise awareness is by learning more about it and voicing your findings to others. Nothing travels quicker than word of mouth and by researching further into the illness you can not only support the people you know with it but also raise awareness among others. If you are suffering from IBS yourself and you would like to raise awareness, you can also share your story across your social media or even distribute informative leaflets at your local hospital or doctor’s surgery. 

Finally, did you know that there is a ribbon that you can wear for IBS? Like many other illnesses, you can show your support outwardly for IBS sufferers by wearing a periwinkle ribbon on your left lapel. By wearing the IBS awareness ribbon you can show your solidarity or dress in periwinkle blue on any day during the month of April!

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