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What Is IBS

Are you tired of battling recurring digestive issues that impact your daily life? You're not alone! 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a gut disorder affecting millions worldwide!

In this blog post, we'll delve into the facts about IBS, exploring its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and management strategies.

So, grab yourself a cup of tea, relax, and let's explore all things IBS together.

So, what actually is IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder primarily affecting the large intestine or colon.

It is characterised by a range of uncomfortable symptoms, including:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Ongoing bloating
  • Excessive gas
  • Alterations in bowel habits (constipation, diarrhoea, or a mix of both)
  • The feeling of incomplete emptying after a bowel movement

You might be wondering, what causes IBS? 

While the exact cause of IBS remains unclear, research suggests that abnormalities in gut-brain communication, an imbalance of bacteria in the gut, and altered intestinal function may contribute to its development [1].

However, more research is needed to uncover the exact causes of IBS.

Read more about causes of IBS here.

How is IBS diagnosed?

Accurate diagnosis of IBS involves a thorough evaluation by your healthcare professional. 

When you visit your healthcare professional, they'll dig into your medical history, give you a physical check-up, and maybe even run some tests to rule out any other nasties. They use a tool called the Rome IV criteria to figure out if your symptoms match the IBS profile [2].

Maintaining a symptom journal can also be helpful before seeing your Doctor or Dietitian, as it allows you to track patterns and provide valuable information about your food and bowel habits to help create a plan for you and your symptoms [3].

Unmasking Your Triggers 

Let’s talk triggers!

Often IBS symptoms stem from the digestion of foods that are high in fermentable carbohydrates, called FODMAPs.

While triggers of IBS can vary among individuals, certain lifestyle and dietary factors have commonly been associated with worsening symptoms!

Some basic lifestyle habits that may make your IBS worse:

  • Eating large meals 
  • Not chewing food properly
  • Lots of takeaway meals and fast food options
  • Drinking soft drinks and other carbonated drinks
  • Chewing on gums and mints
  • Drinking alcohol 
  • High-stress levels

Identifying personal food triggers is crucial for effectively managing your symptoms! This can be done with the help of a specialist Dietitian. 

Managing Your IBS Like A Boss

Now, let's talk about taking control of your IBS like a total boss. Although there's no magic cure for IBS, various strategies can help manage and alleviate symptoms, and improve your overall quality of life. 

Lifestyle modifications can play such a huge role in symptom control. I’m talking about stress management techniques such as:

  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Regular exercise
  • Adequate, good-quality sleep

These can all have a positive impact on IBS symptoms [4]. 

Eating a balanced diet is also an important contributor to symptom relief.

Some individuals find relief by adopting a low FODMAP diet, which involves reducing specific carbohydrates that can trigger symptoms [5], however, this should only be done under the guidance of a specialist Dietitian

To fine-tune your strategy, team up with a healthcare professional and registered dietitian who can help you customise your dietary changes to your unique needs.

Medications like antispasmodics or laxatives may be prescribed to target specific symptoms also, but again, it's crucial to work closely with your healthcare team and specialist Dietitian to determine the most suitable approach for your unique needs [6].

Staying Positive On Your IBS Journey

We know that dealing with a chronic condition like IBS can feel like a real challenge. But please remember, you're never alone in this journey! 

Reach out to your squad — family, friends, and even online communities where you can connect with fellow warriors who truly get what you're going through.

Sharing experiences, tips, and coping strategies can be a game-changer in managing the ups and downs of living with IBS. 

So, put on that smile, stay proactive, and make self-care your superpower on this IBS journey and don’t forget to reach out to your healthcare team and Dietitian to support you along the way!

Check out our library of resources created by our specialist Dietitian to help you on your journey to IBS freedom.

More Information


  1. Chey, W. D., Kurlander, J., & Eswaran, S. (2015). Irritable bowel syndrome: a clinical review. JAMA, 313(9), 949-958.
  2. Lacy, B. E., Mearin, F., Chang, L., Chey, W. D., Lembo, A. J., Simren, M., & Spiller, R. (2016). Bowel disorders. Gastroenterology, 150(6), 1393-1407.
  3. Palsson, O. S., Whitehead, W. E., van Tilburg, M. A., Chang, L., Chey, W., Crowell, M. D., ... & Lembo, A. (2016). Development and validation of the Rome IV diagnostic questionnaire for adults. Gastroenterology, 150(6), 1481-1491.
  4. Ford, A. C., Quigley, E. M., Lacy, B. E., Lembo, A. J., Saito, Y. A., Schiller, L. R., ... & Moayyedi, P. (2014). Efficacy of prebiotics, probiotics, and synbiotics in irritable bowel syndrome and chronic idiopathic constipation: systematic review and meta-analysis. The American Journal of Gastroenterology, 109(10), 1547-1561.
  5. Staudacher, H. M., Whelan, K., & Irving, P. M. (2014). Lactose intolerance and the low-FODMAP diet. The Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 29(3), 165-168.
  6. Chey, W. D., & Kurlander, J. (2015). Efficacy of the low FODMAP diet for treating irritable bowel syndrome: the evidence to date. Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology, 8, 253-261.

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