April is IBS awareness month. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common digestive conditions in the UK, affecting between 10 and 20 percent of the population. It is more common in women than men, most often women between the ages of 20 and 30, but it can affect people of all ages.
What is IBS?
IBS is an umbrella term that covers a range of different digestive disorders. The symptoms can vary widely from one person to another although there are some that are more commonly experienced. IBS is usually diagnosed after extensive tests have eliminated other causes.
- Abdominal pain or discomfort (stomach cramps), usually worse after eating
- Bloating, feeling uncomfortably full, swollen and tight in the abdomen.
- Feeling the urge to poo suddenly and urgently
- Diarrhoea or constipation or both
IBS can be very frustrating to live with and impact on a person’s quality and enjoyment of life. Many people experiencing IBS plan their whole day around their symptoms and these may dictate where and when they go out or indeed whether they feel able to go out. The need to check out locations of available toilets in advance of journeys, for instance, will be an essential consideration to many with IBS.
The symptoms of IBS may last for a few days, weeks or months at a time. For some, the symptoms are there all the time. The exact cause is unknown. It’s been linked to things like food passing through your gut too quickly or too slowly, oversensitive nerves in your gut, stress, and a family history of IBS (NHS Choices website). There is much evidence that psychological factors play an important role. This doesn’t mean that IBS is “all in the mind”. The symptoms are very real, but intense emotional states such as stress and anxiety can trigger chemical changes that interfere with the normal workings of the digestive system.
As IBS symptoms can be exacerbated by stress and anxiety, in cases where diet change and medication have proved unhelpful doctors will recommend some kind of psychological intervention. CBT and Hypnotherapy are often recommended. Hypnotherapy has been proven to be very effective in such cases and is recommended to GPs by NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) as an option for people whose symptoms have not responded to traditional treatments after 12 months. Hypnotherapy can help to alleviate symptoms, often by addressing the underlying stress and anxiety.
To find out more about hypnotherapy and how it can help with IBS call 07514 931 096 or email me using the contact form.