Did you know around 20% of the Australian population experiences Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in some form?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a functional gut disorder, which presents with symptoms of bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, nausea and abdominal pain.
One in five people with IBS will experience extreme, debilitating symptoms, and two in five will experience moderate symptoms, which also interfere with work and social activities.
Women are three times more likely than men to experience IBS, and it can affect people of all ages.
Although IBS is a common condition, people remain reluctant to talk about their painful, uncomfortable and often embarrassing symptoms.
April is IBS Awareness Month and to raise awareness and shed some light on this uncomfortable topic, the Gut Foundation will be hosting a live Q&A session on the Gut Foundation Facebook page from 12:30pm (AEST) on 28th April.
Amy Darcy: A Patient Story
Amy Darcy, the woman behind the successful health and wellness blog Eat Pray Workout, first began experiencing IBS symptoms four years ago, after a nasty bout of Salmonella.
“It took my body ages to recover from the food poisoning, and even when it was over, my digestive system was still all over the place,” says Amy.
During this time, Amy was experiencing extreme bloating, which came with often-intense pain and discomfort. Some nights she would wake in pain as she tried to roll over onto her stomach. Amy was also dealing with alternating diarrhoea and constipation, and painful and embarrassing wind. She found using Degas (OTC medication) gave her some relief when her symptoms got particularly bad.
Amy trialled removing dairy and gluten from her diet and with these changes to her diet, Amy’s IBS symptoms cleared up altogether for a couple of years. Even during her pregnancy, she was IBS symptom-free.
Unfortunately, in the weeks after Amy’s baby boy was born, she began experiencing quite severe IBS symptoms again.
She began avoiding going out because she was worried she would have a flare up, and she was particularly embarrassed about the foul-smelling wind she was producing. She was also experiencing an odd sensation when she was exercising – one of heaviness and fullness in her pelvic region.
After visiting many doctors and undergoing a battery of tests, she decided to try the FODMAP diet.
After starting the diet, Amy began to see an improvement in her symptoms after about three weeks. Amy wishes there was more awareness of IBS symptoms in the wider community. She’d also like more people – particularly those in the food service industry – to be aware of what the low FODMAP diet is all about, and the kinds of symptoms that people following this diet are trying to prevent.
“I wish I could order the food I need to not be sick, without being seen as picky or difficult, or for people to assume that I’m just following a fad. There’s definitely a stigma around ordering ‘special meals’, and I wish there was more education around that so that we’re not embarrassed to ask for what we need,” says Amy.
About Amy Darcy
Amy Darcy is a Mum, lawyer and the editor of Eat Pray Workout, an Australian-based online hub for women who want to be the healthiest, happiest version of themselves.