April is the International Awareness Month for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – a whole month, I hear you say? Wow, does it need a WHOLE month for people to be aware? Well my humble opinion on this matter is it does. Their can be a misunderstanding of this condition as everyone can suffer from upsets to their bowels on occasion from stressful events and IBS is often viewed as trivial by society because, after all, if up to 10 – 20% of the population suffer then surely it can’t be that bad? Irritable bowel syndrome is often played down and yes it isn’t a life limiting disease, but for some people it can have a real detrimental effect on their ability to work and have a good quality of life. It’s often quality of life that matters to people’s mood and ability to enjoy life, so this is important to everyone.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a range of symptoms that affect the way the bowel functions, and common symptoms include diarrhoea and/or constipation, pain with or without bloating, but IBS can include symptoms that are not directly related to the digestive tract, such as exhaustion, headaches, dizziness and depression – in fact it perhaps isn’t surprising that people get depressed with having to tolerate a myriad of confusing symptoms that on occasion isn’t managed well. There is no cure, yes there are treatments, but what works is different for everyone. Everyone’s IBS is different, therefore it does need some understanding of ones own symptoms and triggers that is important. This is where the IBS Self Care Plan developed by the IBS Network can help, because it helps to identify people’s individual symptoms and provides explanations of the various treatments that may help.

But we also must increase the profile of this syndrome in society and the devastating symptoms it can produce, a month of promotion to increase people’s awareness of the actuality of living with IBS will help. It would be really cool for you to share your IBS story this month to increase people’s knowledge and improve the image of this syndrome with the general public!  So comments to this blog would be useful and should you wish to share your story with a wider audience then contact The IBS Network and spread the awareness!!

Join the IBS Network – the UK national charity for IBS – who provide a helpline, email responses by health professional, quarterly magazine, monthly newsletter, can’t wait card and coming later this month for members only, The IBS Self Care Plan and symptom tracker, your own personal resource for understanding and managing your IBS. Check out the link on this blog site for further information