IBS Network

The IBS Network

We are the national charity supporting people living with irritable bowel syndrome. Our mission is to provide information and advice, working alongside healthcare professionals to facilitate self-management. Thanks to your donations, we help thousands of IBS sufferers to live well with this debilitating condition.

At The IBS Network we work hard to deliver the support people living with IBS need. We offer practical advice and help so that people do not feel isolated and alone but part of a caring community. We understand the challenges that living with IBS brings. We listen. We take you seriously.

The charity receives no government or NHS support so to enable the charity to continue ,we need to ask for an annual donation of £24 per year(£2 a month) for an online member and £34 (£3 a month) for a paper member per year, (if you want to receive the quarterly magazine by post). To pay by direct debit please contact the office; info@theibsnetwork.org

Benefits to joining our community include:​

  • access to reliable information from trusted IBS specialists.
  • our Self-Care Programme provides you with comprehensive information about the nature, causes and management of IBS that you can tailor to your IBS
  • symptom Tracker, which will help you to manage your condition. Similar to a diary, the symptom tracker allows you to keep a record of your symptoms which can help you to see if there is a pattern over time and can help you to understand your condition better
  • our ‘Ask the Experts‘ facility, personal one to one contact through our website with our healthcare professionals (including gastroenterologists and dietitians);
  • specialist IBS nurse Helpline; staffed by nurses trained in the symptoms of IBS- Tue, Wed, Thurs 7pm-9pm;
  • a range of detailed factsheets, such as Medications, Stress,diarrhoea and constipation;
  • our quarterly magazine – Gut reaction; published in March, June, September and December, filled with new research, recipes, articles written by our medical professionals and people’s stories
  • our monthly enewsletter – Relief; Online only
  • our recipes updated monthly, specifically designed to be suitable for the sensitive gutour recipes are updated monthly and are specifically designed to be suitable for the sensitive gut. There is a range of recipes, some may not be right for you due to your own triggers; we cater for everyone as IBS is different for everyone;
  • a ‘Can’t Wait’ card and travel version translated into 12 languages (£5 value) sent in your welcome pack;
  • support groups dependent on area.

Join today and start to live well with IBS Become a Member | IBS Network (theibsnetwork.org)


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the name given to a longstanding illness consisting of frequent abdominal discomfort and bowel symptoms that cannot be explained by any other disease.

Symptoms include

  • Abdominal cramps, often relieved by going to the toilet
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Frustrated defaecation (needing to go to the toilet but not being able to)

IBS is an illness that has no specific cause, no distinctive pathology and no single effective treatment. The symptoms can vary from person to person and in the same person different times but often in response to what happens or changes in diet or lifestyle.

Physiological studies have shown that the gut in IBS tends to be more sensitive and reactive (irritable). Causes of this may include a traumatic or upsetting event or situation or an attack of gastroenteritis.

It is more common in women than men (3:2), tends to start in teenage or twenties and may persist on and off throughout life, often depending on what is happening.

IBS is defined as a combination of bowel disturbance (constipation or diarrhoea) and abdominal discomfort (bloating or pain), for which there is no obvious cause. There is no diagnostic test for IBS, but there are tests for colitis, Crohn’s Disease, coeliac disease or bowel cancer, which might cause the same symptoms. So IBS is for most doctors a diagnosis of exclusion. If all tests are negative and you have no worrying symptoms like blood in the stool or weight loss, there is little to be gained except worry by doing more investigations.

The symptoms of IBS can resemble those of Bowel Cancer, Coeliac Disease or Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s and Colitis) but these can be screened by specific tests. The recent NICE Quality Standards (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) for IBS recommends that everybody with ongoing symptoms of IBS should be screened for these diseases by blood or stool tests.

Keep a wellness diary on which you can identify the flare ups of your IBS and any changes in diet or events that that occur before those. Once recognised, these may then be avoided or dealt with. Try to find time and space in your life to do something for you. This might be going to yoga classes, sunning, swimming, learning to draw or paint, cooking. Exercise and creative activity are all forms of mindfulness that can allow respite from IBS and what causes it and may allow you to consider life changes.

In about 20-30% of people, symptoms switch between diarrhoea and constipation. The reason for this is not clear, but some people demonstrate fluctuations in eating behaviour and emotional expression/behaviour.

No but it can be managed, and it may disappear with a change in life.

IBS fluctuates according to the stresses and changes in life. Stress can excite the brain stem centres that control bowel function. Finding time and space to think damps down the activity and reduces symptoms.

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