Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects around 20% of people in the UK (maybe more, given the wide range of symptoms associated with the condition and taboos about talking about them). It can be painful, causing frequent tummy discomfort, wind, bloating, and constipation, alternating with bouts of diarrhoea. The condition can impact a person’s quality of life, leading to anxiety and affecting their daily activities.
What’s more, new research* published by the makers of Alflorex on 2 April at the start of IBS Awareness Month revealed that Brits are burying their heads in the sand when it comes to gut health, with more than 1 in 6 (18%) of the 2,000+ people surveyed, admitting they have never visited a doctor despite suffering with a bowel issue. The results also show that only 46% of Brits actually know all the symptoms of IBS.
According to Precision Biotics, our refusal to seek professional medical advice immediately to help ease the symptoms of IBS has resulted in nearly 3 in 10 Brits (28%) soiling themselves in public, nearly a quarter (23%) passing wind in a meeting, nearly 1 in 5 Brits have passed wind during sex (19%) and 17% of Brits having to carry two sets of clothing because of soiling or bloating.
In fact, nearly half of those surveyed (48%) revealed that they put off going to the doctor if they suspect they have IBS or a gut problem, with 48% hoping that the issue would stop naturally, and more than 3 in 10 (31%) feeling too embarrassed to go. Over 70% of 35-44-year olds regularly suffer some form of bowel issue. An under-whelming 16% of Brits would go to the doctors after experiencing symptoms.
Sitting on the problem
Bowel conditions and the symptoms of constipation, diarrhoea, flatulence, and other activities that take place in the ‘private’ realm of the toilets remain heavily taboo topics in Britain. Therefore, embarrassment is a continual theme surrounding gut health, the Alflorex research revealed that even if their gut was causing them severe pain, nearly 4 in 10 Brits (38%) would feel uncomfortable discussing bowel issues with their boss, and a further 37% would be uncomfortable talking to their colleagues about it.
The research reveals that stress is the biggest trigger of IBS/gut problems (41%), followed by diet (29%). Those suffering with IBS/gut problems have had to make a series of adaptions in order to feel comfortable. 1 in 5 Brits have had to research public toilets before leaving the house, and a further 40% have had to carry spare toilet roll and carry spare underwear.
Over half of Brits surveyed (52%) have found themselves needing the toilet while in public and unable to find one, meaning that over 6 in 10 Brits (66%) have had to go into a pub/restaurant to use their facilities, nearly half (49%) have pretended to be a customer to use a toilet and 18% have had to run in public trying to find toilet. Distressingly 35% of adults admit to being caught short while needing the toilet in public.
In the quest for a remedy, 84% of the public have tried a probiotic treatment, and over half of those suffering from IBS (53%) believe the most important benefits for a treatment of IBS/gut problems are that it treats the cause not just the symptoms.
According to Precision Biotics, Alflorex does just that. The supplement is said to be the result of more than 17 years of clinical research and is clinically proven to address the root cause of the condition and alleviate the symptoms associated with IBS – bloating, abdominal pain and unpredictable bowel movements like diarrhoea and constipation.
The 35624 culture in Alflorex is the only bacterial strain to have shown reduction of symptoms in two well-controlled clinical trials led by scientists and gastroenterologists in the UK and Europe. As a result, it is the number one recommended probiotic by US gastroenterologists and was winner of the Best Natural Product and Best GI Product in the Irish Pharmacy News OTC Awards for 2016-17.
For more advice on coping with IBS, including natural remedies, see our May issue in which our columnist and medical herbalist Pamela Spence will be talking about some of the herbs we can incorporate into our daily lives to help reduce the symptoms. Did you know, for example, that fennel is the top remedy when it comes to IBS-induced bloating and wind?