IBS Symptoms and Causes

What are the symptoms of IBS?

IBS symptoms differ from one person to the next so don’t be alarmed if your symptoms vary from someone else’s. Gas-related symptoms including, bloating, discomfort, painful spasms and cramps are particularly common, affecting over 90% of IBS sufferers1.

Other common symptoms include2:

  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Swelling of your stomach
  • Excessive wind
  • Constipation and/or diarrhoea
  • Sometimes experiencing an urgent need to go to the toilet
  • Passing mucus from your bottom

Some people may also experience2:

  • A lack of energy / tiredness
  • Nausea / feeling sick
  • Backache
  • Incontinence
  • Anxiety and depression in response to other IBS symptoms

Frustratingly, symptoms can come and go, lasting from a few days up to a few months at a time. If you experience these symptoms speak to a pharmacist or GP.

What triggers IBS and what can I do about it?

Although it isn’t clear what the exact cause of IBS is, it is believed that it is related to increased sensitivity to the gut and problems digesting food3. This can lead to constipation and/or diarrhoea because your food passes through your system either too slowly or too quickly3.

Factors such as stress or anxiety or certain foods or drinks can trigger symptoms of IBS. Understanding your triggers can help you to reduce flare-ups so you can get on with life and not let IBS get in the way.


Did you know your mind and gut are linked? With our increasingly hectic lifestyles, emotions, such as stress and anxiety can have a negative impact on gut health, triggering symptoms.

Try relaxation methods such as meditation, mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which can help to reduce stress-induced flare ups4. Yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi are also a good way to help relieve stress4.

To help break the IBS-stress cycle, we’ve teamed up with Mindfulness Expert, Emma Mills to give you coping mechanisms to help alleviate stress whilst at home, work, or on-the-go. Check out Emma’s top ‘Gutfulness’ tips to the left, to help prevent IBS stopping you in your tracks.

IBS causes and symptoms


Were you aware that understanding what foods and drink trigger your IBS for example, caffeine, alcohol, processed food or fatty foods, can be a great way to help you manage your symptoms3? A quick and easy way you can track your triggers is to keep a food diary or add in notes to your phone calendar and jot down any changes you experience. Avoiding your triggers, having regular meals and eating slowly can all help food digest easier and help you escape the horrible bloated feeling4.


Did you know if you don’t exercise often, the digestive system can slow down? Try not to be put off by your symptoms and aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise such as fast-walking and cycling. Exercise which increases your heart and breathing rate can help to ease symptoms4.


IBS affects around twice as many women as men5. This could be because hormone levels change during a menstrual cycle, which can affect the movement of food through the gut. This could explain why IBS symptoms can become more severe around the time of a woman’s period6.


Keep Senocalm and carry on

Find out more about Senocalm for relief from IBS gas-related symptoms.

Read more about IBS.

Always read the instructions.

  1. Azpiroz F & Malagelada 2005. Abdominal Bloating. Gastroenterology 2005;129:1060-1078.
  2. NHS Choices, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – Symptoms. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Irritable-bowel-syndrome/Pages/Symptoms.aspx4
  3. NHS Choices, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – Causes. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Irritable-bowel-syndrome/Pages/Causes.aspx (Last accessed May 2017)
  4. NHS Choices, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – Treatment. Available http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Irritable-bowel-syndrome/Pages/Treatment.aspx [Last accessed May 2017]
  5. NHS Choices, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – Introduction. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Irritable-bowel-syndrome/Pages/Introduction.aspx (Last accessed May 2017)
  6. Houghton LA et al. The menstrual cycle affects rectal sensitivity in patients with irritable bowel syndrome but not healthy volunteers. Gut 2002; 50:471-474 Available http://gut.bmj.com/content/50/4/471 [Last  accessed May 2017]