What is IBS ?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a sporadic and unpredictable disruption of the digestive system that can include symptoms such as bowel cramps and stomach cramps .
Everyone suffers the odd upset, but if you experience one or more of these symptoms regularly, it may be an indication of IBS:
- Painful abdominal spasms or stomach cramps
- Bowel cramps
What causes IBS?
Doctors are not exactly sure what causes IBS, and the symptoms can vary in type, frequency and severity from person to person. These can include suffering from stomach cramps or bowel cramps .However, we do know that stress, illness and diet are significant contributing factors to the condition – and that it can be painful, embarrassing and inconvenient to live with.
Did you know?
IBS occurs when nerves and muscles in the lower bowel aren’t functioning as they should, and as a result, the bowel can become much more sensitive to pain.Therefore, you experience upsets more easily and more frequently.
Prolonged periods of stress affect your natural digestive rhythm.
Previous gastrointestinal illness can make you more susceptible to IBS.
Certain foods and drinks can trigger the symptoms of IBS, such as fatty or fried food, processed snacks like crisps or biscuits, and drinks that contain caffeine.
Hormonal changes, such as menstruation, can cause or aggravate IBS.
We look more closely at what can trigger IBS symptoms, such as stomach cramps, on our Causes of IBS page.
Who does it affect?
Anyone can suffer from IBS at any time in their life, but it usually makes its first appearance between 20 and 30 years of age. Women are twice as likely to be affected than men.
Unfortunately, IBS is a chronic condition. It can persist for some time, or may recur after long periods when you thought it had gone away. Some people will find they suffer more severely or for longer than others , and require medication for stomach cramps and other symptoms .