Talking about your digestive health is not something that people normally talk about is it ? It is certainly not something that I talk about. Although I probably should as for the last couple of years I have been suffering really badly from IBS, so much so that it is impacting upon my social life. I often refuse to go out for meals or refuse food when we do go out, I worry when I do eat that I will get pains. If I am honest it really ruins days out at times as I am always on edge waiting for an attack to strike.
I think that my IBS was due to getting my gallbladder removed, I have suffered with problems ever since I had it removed after my daughters birth. If I eat certain foods I normally get extremely bad cramps in my tummy. Attacks come and go, sometimes I can be fine for weeks with no symptoms and then out of the blue I will be hit with an attack for weeks on end and feel awful.
I honestly thought that I was in the minority suffering from this condition but actually digestive problems are really common, especially in young women and mothers. Johnson and Johnson have recently carried out some research into this, to help raise awareness of these conditions and educate people on digestive health problems.
The research found that just under half of 16-29 year olds in the UK surveyed who suffer from digestive health conditions find that stress plays a part in their symptoms. A huge 66% of those who said stress caused them to have symptoms said the stress was caused due to work related stress.
The survey also found that digestive problems are impacting upon young peoples social lives with 37% cancelling plans due to symptoms. 42% of those surveyed said that their conditions made them feel self-conscious and unattractive with 32% saying it impacts upon their love lives too.
I was not at all surprised to hear these findings or to find out that 40% of under 30s do not seek any treatment or medical advice as they are too embarrassed. This is something I can relate to as I don't either and I am 32, I guess it is partly down to embarrassment and partly down to the fact that I thought it was just something I had to live with now I no longer have a gallbladder to process food properly.
Help is available though if you recognise symptoms early and make some lifestyle changes it could help relieve your symptoms. The NHS recommend that you try and reduce your stress levels, lose excess weight, eat slowly and properly and keep a food journal so you can see if certain foods trigger your symptoms. I am going to start keeping a journal as I think that high fat and fibre foods are making my own symptoms worse.
Once you find out your triggers make sure you avoid them, common triggers are Alcohol, fibre-rich foods, dairy, coffee and tea and excessive fruit and vegetables.
It is also recommended that you seek advice from either your GP or pharmacist who can help you. You can buy over the counter products to help with your symptoms such as Colpermin (RRP £5.99) if you are suffering from IBS like I am. You can also buy other products such as Imodium if you suffer from diarrhoea or anusol if you suffer from piles - which are meant to be very common during pregnancy and after childbirth.
I am defiantly going to be making an appointment to speak to my doctor on how I can manage my IBS better. I will also be visiting my local boots pharmacy tomorrow too to see if I can stock up on some over the counter medicine like Colpermin to help manage my symptoms in the future. I have decided that it is time I took control back of my life and stopped living in fear of IBS attacks.
Have you ever suffered from any digestive health conditions ?