Understanding the cause of why you're feeling unwell can be difficult, but when you have no information to guide you, it becomes infinitely worse. This is exactly what has driven me to talk about IBS, a condition that affects 1 in 5 people at some point in their life. Living with IBS isn't scary and everyone must know that. But what is IBS? Here's what you should know.

What Is IBS?

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Mun Ling Koh

IBS — Irritable Bowel Syndrome — is a common, long-term condition that affects the digestive system, with symptoms like diarrhea and/or constipation, stomach cramps, and bloating. Although a very common condition, few people know anything about living with IBS.

Other common symptoms include backache, lethargy, flatulence, and pain during sex. When it comes in its most debilitating cases, IBS can also lead to depression and anxiety. It's a really unpredictable syndrome which can flare up from time to time, and affects people at different degrees.

How to Recognize IBS 

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Mun Ling Koh

Many symptoms of IBS can also signal a food allergy or intolerance. However, only doctors can assess the cause of your sickness. If in doubt, book an appointment with your GP who'll prescribe you some blood tests, to rule out any other possible condition.

While food intolerances might have a longer reaction time and mainly affect the digestive system, food allergies can become life-threatening and lead to anaphylactic shock. That's why you should be very careful if you suspect to have this condition and go to a specialist to get it checked.

You should be aware that the causes of IBS are still unknown, even though most experts think it's due to an increased sensitivity of the gut and a problematic digestion. If you have no idea why you are suddently feeling unwell, you know you have a good excuse to go talk to your GP.

How to Fight IBS 

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Mun Ling Koh

Living with IBS means renouncing all those products that can either trigger or worsen the symptoms of this syndrome. It also means caring about your mental health and learning how to manage your daily stress level.

Once IBS gets triggered, you could be unable to go to work or school, being forced to — literally — spend hours in the bathroom. It can make you so bloated that it prevents you from wearing your clothes or keeps you at home instead of out in the world, enjoying yourself.

But it's important to remember that you're not alone.

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Mun Ling Koh

You can find support in your family and friends, or in specific support groups. You could get great benefits from exercising regularly, to fight bloating and stress. But if you feel your mental health is at risk, don't hesitate to contact your GP. 

What to Eat

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Mun Ling Koh

Living with IBS means getting used to an IBS-friendly diet. Some general tips are to eat three meals each day, with small regular snacks in between. Avoid alcohol, fizzy drinks, and manufactured food. Drink plenty of plain water and reduce your fruit and vegetable intake to three portions of 80 grams per day. 

If you experience extreme bloating and other symptoms persist, you can try the low FODMAP diet, which consists in avoiding short chains of carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed by the small intestine, reducing bloating and flatulence. 

Enjoying your life

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Mun Ling Koh

It's true that IBS comes with a lot of symptoms, lots of food that you may have to give up and can affect your life at various degrees, meaning that you can be more or less fortunate when being diagnosed with it. However, the most important thing is to not lose hope.

IBS can improve after years of diet and dedication. Living with IBS can be difficult, but it doesn't have to be sad and tasteless. Family, friends and all your loved ones are ready to help you out and make it easier for you to live your life fully. Be brave and don't lose your positivity, the world still has plenty to offer.