IBS or IBD? What’s Really Making You So Uncomfortable?

Last month we featured solutions for managing IBS, a condition responsible for far more discomfort than many of us realise.  This month, however, we’re asking ‘is it something more’?


Chances are if your IBS is extremely severe and you have no periods of respite you may, in fact, be struggling with IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), the nastier older brother of IBS.

Estimated to affect one in five people in the UK, IBD is an autoimmune umbrella condition for Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease, both are very chronic ongoing illnesses that are hidden internally and can easily go undiagnosed.

IBD can look like and be diagnosed as IBS but is in fact, a more severe ongoing condition with no periods of relief. The inflammatory illness can affect men and women and is more common for people in their 20-40s, although women in their fifties and beyond are being increasingly diagnosed.  Often in older people, conditions like Diverticulitis will be diagnosed instead of IBD.

How can you tell if you suffer from IBD?

The main symptoms of IBD are often very painful and life-limiting, not to mention embarrassing and can include:

  • Diarrhoea and frequent bowel movements
  • Severe cramps
  • Joint pain
  • Bloating
  • Bleeding from the rear
  • Lethargy
  • Anaemia
  • Weight loss
  • Weight gain
  • Spells of feeling feverish
  • Reduced Appetite

There are variations of how mild and severe IBD can be.

What Helps:

If you think you may be suffering with IBD, you must see a doctor for further tests and to ensure the condition does not deteriorate further.  Extensive tests may be required and you will almost certainly require medication but lifestyle changes can also help, including:


“Probiotics are a hot topic of the digestive health world, including IBD.  Research has been mounting over the years to suggest that probiotics can be extremely beneficial in helping with IBD, and helps to promote general gut health,” explains Nutritionist Cassandra Barns.

Pro-Ven Adult Probiotic 25 Billion (£13.95, Boots) contains Lab4, the most comprehensively studied group of friendly bacteria of any product in the UK. This provides real benefits in supporting digestive and immune health

Cut Coffee

You may be aware that coffee has a laxative effect and therefore can irritate your bowels further if you already have inflammation.

“Instead of having a coffee, try a ginger tea as this has several benefits for IBD in that it can help to prevent indigestion, gas and bloating.

Ginger also acts as an anti-spasmodic and it relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract. It is also known to reduce anxiety, which for some people can worsen gastrointestinal symptoms,” says Shona Wilkinson, Nutritionist at SuperfoodUk.com

Walk It Off

Try to move as much as possible to help combat against stress, which can be a trigger for the symptoms of IBD.

“Exercise is a great stress reliever. Take a brisk walk to stimulate anti-anxiety effects, this helps to clear your thoughts and feel more relaxed,” explains Shona.

Avoid Yeast

Studies by the University of Utah suggest that yeast may be harmful if you suffer from IBD and worsen inflammation in your intestine lining. Try to avoid foods that contain high levels of yeast such as bread, beer and marmite.

Take Care with Fibre

Fibre can really irritate and IBD sufferer.  Try stewing fruits instead of eating them raw, and avoid foods with lots of fibre like cereal, broccoli and popcorn.

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