A new study has highlighted the isolation and loneliness that can be caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
IBS affects nearly one million people in Ireland (one in five), with females twice as likely to be affected as males, and younger females even more so (18-40 years). The social stigma that comes with it can be very embarrassing for sufferers, according to a study carried out on behalf of Alflorex, which found that 29 per cent of IBS sufferers believe there is still a big stigma associated with the syndrome. Wearing maternity clothes, researching toilet facilities and carrying toilet roll in a bag are just some of the exhausting measures IBS sufferers take before leaving home.
Alflorex highlighted that IBS can be a complex and debilitating condition for which there is no known cause, and that many doctors now agree that symptoms can be triggered by psychological, as well as physical factors. One common trigger of IBS is stress and recent research shows that the brain and gut are more connected than we might think.
Consultant Gastroenterologist, Dr Deirdre O’Donovan, of the Blackrock Clinic, in Dublin, commented: “IBS significantly affects the quality of life and patients can end up being isolated from friends, family, colleagues and even their partners as a result of IBS flare-ups. Symptoms such as unpredictable bowel movements mean they constantly need to be within reach of a toilet.”