How do I tell if I have IBS?
April is IBS awareness month, and with IBS affecting 1 in 20 people in the UK, we’re looking at how you can tell if you have IBS and how to monitor your symptoms for IBS or a food intolerance.
What is IBS?
IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome) is a condition that affects the digestive system. Although the exact cause is unknown, it has been linked to stress, oversensitive nerves in your gut or even family history. Read our blog for more information on what causes IBS.
How do I find out if I have IBS?
If you book an appointment with your GP to talk about your symptoms you may be asked:
- what symptoms you have
- if they come and go
- how often you get them
- when you get them (eg. after eating certain foods)
- how long you've had them for
There is no test for IBS, but you may be offered other tests to rule out things, such as a blood test to check for coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease and infection.
Tips to relieve your symptoms
Here a few tips you can try to relieve symptoms of IBS:
- Cook homemade meals using fresh ingredients when you can. Read our healthy eating guide for tips
- Keep a diary of what you eat and any symptoms you get
- Try to find ways to relax, why not start with our blog post on yoga for mindfulness?
- Get plenty of exercise, read our exercise guide for tips on how much exercise you need
- Try probiotics for a month to see if they help
Monitor your symptoms
If you think you might have IBS keep a food diary to help you and your GP identify the types of food that may be triggering your symptoms.
Simply jot down what you had for each meal plus drinks and snacks. Fill it in sooner rather than later after each meal, to prevent forgetting what you ate. Go in to as much detail as you can, not forgetting to include portion sizes and how the food was prepared. Try and keep the food diary for at least 2 weeks, including two weekends. If you're eating at a restaurant or at friend’s house don’t forget to take it with you. And, remember to be honest!Download our food diary