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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a functional disorder of the gut. A functional disorder means there’s a problem with the function of a particular part of the body, even though the structure appears normal. Therefore with IBS, there’s a problem with the function of the gut, even though it looks completely normal. With IBS, an individual’s bowel is extra sensitive and the nerves and muscles do not work as they should. The condition causes re-occurring pain or discomfort in the abdomen and an altered bowel habit.
Most people suffering from IBS find their symptoms an occasional nuisance, however for other people the condition can seriously affect their quality of life. IBS can develop at any time, however most people have their first symptoms between the ages of 15 and 40. According to some research, IBS can affect up to 1 in 5 people in the UK at some stage in their life, making it one of the most common disorders of the digestive system. Women are more likely than men to suffer with IBS, and their symptoms are often more severe. Some individuals with IBS have constipation, others have diarrhoea, whilst others may suffer from both. Pain may be mild to severe and may occur at a particular time of the day.
The exact cause of IBS is not clear. Some research suggests it may be due to over-activity of parts of the gut, for example if the contractions of the muscles in the wall of the gut become abnormal or overactive. Increased sensitivity to the amount of gas in the bowel and an individual’s genetic make-up are also thought to play a role in the development of IBS.
Symptoms may be worse after eating or if an individual is suffering from stress and specific foods may also trigger the symptoms.
As IBS is regarded as a medical condition, it’s important to consult your doctor first for information, advice and a diagnosis. Although there is no cure for IBS, there are things that can help. Hypnotherapy, relaxation training, medication and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy have all been shown to help alleviate symptoms of IBS.
Hypnotherapy can help an individual to learn relaxation techniques and new ways to manage stress. As our state of mind can have an impact on our physical well-being, the tension, stress and anxiety that living with IBS can cause, may undermine our immune system and actually further compromise our health. Therefore learning how to relax and manage stress become useful tools. Hypnosis can also promote positive thinking and coping strategies by accessing our unconscious mind in a deep state of relaxation.
This content is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional advice.