How do I know if I have IBS?

Nutritional Practitioner, BA (Hons), DN, DNT (Distinction)
Ask Ali

16 October 2018

What are the first signs of IBS?

The symptoms of IBS are wide-ranging and debilitating however, their severity and how long they last varies from person to person. 

Digestive problems such as stomach pain, diarrhoea, flatulence, bloating and constipation are the most common signs of IBS. However, there are also a range of more surprising IBS symptoms such as nausea, an overactive bladder, pain during sex, excessive burping headaches, heartburn and early satiety. 

A ‘Symptoms Diary’ will allow you to keep note of any issues and should indicate if there are any links between what you’re eating and the severity of your symptoms.

What causes it?

Although there is no clear cause of IBS, there are a few things that are thought to contribute to the problem. Diet for example, has a big part to play here as certain foods including caffeine, spice, alcohol and chocolate can often trigger symptoms. On top of this, an intolerance to the likes of dairy or wheat can also add to digestive upset. 

Although diet probably has the biggest impact on IBS symptoms, flare ups can also occur due to gut sensitivity, gut bacteria and hormones. What’s more psychological factors like stress can also have a significant impact on the digestive processes. In this instance they work less efficiently, hence the onset of problems like constipation.

Should I see a doctor?

If you experience infrequent bouts of diarrhoea and bloating then it’s not really a cause for concern - perhaps last night’s curry was just a little too spicy or you ate your dinner too quickly. The problem is when symptoms reoccur time and time again thus affecting your ability to get on with your daily routine.

So, if digestive problems are causing frequent discomfort it is really important to visit your doctor for a check-up. They’ll be able to do further investigations in order to determine the cause of your symptoms, plus they’ll be able to provide expert advice on the matter. 

Can you suddenly develop IBS?

IBS can develop at any age, though most people are in their 20s or 30s when symptoms first occur.

As I mentioned, stress can contribute to IBS symptoms however, in this instance problems may occur in someone who doesn’t normally have the condition. As long as the source of stress isn’t a long-term problem though, any issues tend to ease once the stressful situation has passed.  

How do you test for irritable bowel syndrome?

Our IBS symptoms checker will help you to better understand the symptoms you are experiencing, plus it provides more information on IBS and how to tackle it.  

If you visit your doctor they will ask you a series of questions about your symptoms and may check your stomach for lumps and swelling. After this they may decide to arrange a blood or stool test in order to rule out any other cause for your symptoms. 

What’s next?

Once you’ve received a diagnosis of IBS there are a range of measures you can put in place to help manage the condition. 

Eating habits – include eating slowly, opting for warm foods and chewing each mouthful thoroughly are just a few simple eating habits that will help to ease IBS

Diet – limiting your intake of food and drinks that are likely to cause irritation in your stomach can help to ease IBS. Problem foods will vary from person to person so, as I’ve already mentioned, a symptoms diary can help pin-point where the issues lie

Medication – your doctor may choose to prescribe medication in order to bring relief from your IBS symptoms. Anti-spasmodic medication can help if diarrhoea is particularly problematic as it works to reduce and stabilise contractions in the gut. Laxatives on the other hand, draw more water into the bowel to soften stools and relieve constipation

Herbal remedies – these are another great option for individuals suffering from IBS. Herbal bitters such as Digestisan encourage the secretion of digestive juices and enzymes which, in turn, improves digestion. This particular product also contains a mix of Cynara, Dandelion, Peppermint and dried Boldo leaves which helps to bring relief from issues such as indigestion and flatulence. Another great natural option for those suffering from IBS is Silicol gel. This contains silicic acid which binds to harmful substances and helps facilitate their removal from the body. This process helps to reduce IBS symptoms such as nausea, flatulence, stomach ache and diarrhoea. 


If you have any other queries about IBS I’d recommend having a look at my blog ‘7 common IBS questions’ where you’ll find even more information on this common health condition.

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Wondering if you have IBS?

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Here’s what I recommend

As the A.Vogel Digestion advisor, I recommend Silicol® Gel and Molkosan® Original, to help with your IBS symptoms.

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Did you know?

How you eat rather than what you eat can also trigger your IBS. From not chewing your food enough to even how you sit while you eat can all impact affect your IBS!

7 simple eating habits to help ease IBS

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