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6 Stats you Should Know about IBS

What is IBS?

IBS is a common chronic or lifelong condition which affects the digestive system. It can manifest in the form of diarrhoea, constipation or both. Sufferers of IBS usually have no visible inflammation (swelling, redness or sores) inside the intestines. IBS doesn’t affect a person’s lifespan but can have an impact on someone’s quality of life.

We have pulled together some facts for you on the condition so you can become more informed on the syndrome, and assess if it is something which may be relevant to you.

  • It’s estimated that 10-15% of the world’s population has IBS
  • Although IBS is relatively common, it is difficult to diagnose, and due to the taboo around toilet activity, it is thought that IBS remains under diagnosed across the globe. The severity of symptoms can vary from person to person. While some individuals may experience debilitating symptoms such as frequent loose stool and painful stomach bloating, others may only experience mild stomach discomfort.
  • There are 4 different types of IBS
  • Research has shown that IBS symptoms aren’t the same for everyone, some people may experience reduced bowel movements, whereas others will experience more frequent bowel movements, with loose stool. It is believed that IBS isn’t a single disease, it has 4 different subcategories.

    The 4 subcategories of IBS are as follows:

    • IBS-C: with predominant constipation
    • IBS-D: with predominant diarrhoea
    • IBS-M: with both constipation and diarrhoea
    • Undefined subtype (IBS-U) — symptoms vary.
    • People under 50 are more likely to be affected by IBS

    You can certainly develop IBS at any stage of life, but it’s most common for symptoms to start between the ages of 20 and 30.

    It’s far less likely for IBS symptoms to start later in life, so if you are experiencing IBS-like symptoms over the age of 40, it is likely this may be a different bowel condition, such as inflammatory bowel disease, rather than IBS.

  • You are 2x more likely to suffer from IBS if a relative has it
  • Although the connection between IBS and genetics is a topic of contention among medical professionals, many studies have found a strong link between the two. The relative risk of IBS is twice as high for people with a biological relative with the condition. Whether it’s from genetic inheritance or not, members of the same family often live in the same environment, tend to have a similar diet, and even share the same colonic bacteria, so the chances of a parent and child having it are high.
  • People with atopic allergies are more than 3 times more likely to have IBS
  • Studies have shown that a percentage of IBS patients and patients with allergic diseases share some characteristic inflammatory features. In fact, atopic children show an increased likelihood of developing IBS as adults. So if you have ever suffered from eczema, your chances of getting IBS are higher than for someone who doesn’t struggle with these allergies.

  • IBS affects around twice as many women as men
  • Research shows that IBS is much more common in women. It is difficult to pinpoint why this is exactly, as irritable bowel symptoms can overlap with other gastric conditions like food intolerances, colitis, and or even gallstone pain. IBS flare-ups are often linked to the menstrual cycle, with IBS being most prevalent during menstruation years, with symptoms being most severe during postovulatory and premenstrual phases.
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