What is IBS?

      What is IBS?

      Irritable Bowel Syndrome1 (often known as IBS) is a common condition which affects the digestive system. It is a long-term condition affecting around 1 in 5 people in the UK2.

      Symptoms of IBS can vary, but tend to include;

      • Bloating
      • Stomach cramps
      • Diarrhoea
      • Constipation

      Read more about the symptoms of IBS or try using our Symptoms checker

      Causes of IBS

      Experts are divided over what causes IBS3, however evidence suggests the gut has become oversensitive and has problems digesting food4. There are usually different triggers which can set off your IBS such as diet, stress and life changes5. Knowing your triggers can help you manage your IBS6. For example, it may help to;

      • Identify and avoid foods or drinks that trigger your symptoms
      • Alter the amount of fibre in your diet
      • Exercise regularly
      • Reduce your stress levels

      For more about IBS triggers, go to our causes of IBS section

      Treatments of IBS

      There is no simple 'one size fits all' treatment plan or medicine for IBS. But with a little patience and research, there is a lot you can do to try help alleviate your symptoms of IBS both with lifestyle changes and medically. Our IBS treatment section can help you understand ways to manage your IBS.

      Living with IBS

      Although IBS can be a long-term condition, there could be changes to the symptoms over time.7 We understand how physically and emotionally draining living with IBS can be. That's why we've created our living with IBS section to help you take control.

      Think you might have IBS?

      Just like you, your symptoms are unique. Irritable Bowel Syndrome means a group of symptoms that occur together and vary in severity from one person to another, so the sooner you can identify your symptoms, the sooner you can get help to try and address them.

      *If you think you have IBS always consult your doctor to get a full medical diagnosis.



      1. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs/
      2. https://www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/digestive-gut-health/irritable-bowel-syndrome/
      3. Alchemy IBS advice
      4. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/stomach-liver-and-gastrointestinal-tract/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs#introduction
      5. https://www.theibsnetwork.org/have-i-got-ibs/what-is-the-cause-of-ibs/
      6. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/stomach-liver-and-gastrointestinal-tract/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs
      7. https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/stomach-liver-and-gastrointestinal-tract/irritable-bowel-syndrome-ibs