Sheffield charity’s work to break the stigma of Irritable Bowel Syndrome


A Sheffield-based charity is hoping to break the taboo surrounding Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) by running a conference about the condition.

IBS affects thousands of people in Sheffield and the wider South Yorkshire area alone, and also around 12 million people across the UK, but many sufferers are often too embarrassed to talk about it.

The IBS Network, the national charity supporting people living with the chronic condition, is hosting its second national IBS conference on April 14 in Sheffield where the charity began over 26 years ago, to encourage people to seek help.

For many sufferers, IBS can lead to feelings of isolation and cause major problems in people’s working and personal lives. I

t is estimated that Britain’s businesses lose almost £3 billion every year through sick days related to gut health.

Claire, who’s in her 40s, has suffered with IBS for over 20 years but was only diagnosed four years ago after being referred to a Gastroenterologist following many tests.

She said: “IBS isn’t life threatening but living with it can certainly be life changing.”

Her symptoms vary, but mainly consist of cramping and pain in the gut and the need to rush to the toilet.

She added: “I constantly had a gut that felt slightly on the edge, almost like a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.

“I would massively bloat throughout the day, and by 4pm I could no longer do up my jeans, start to feel lethargic, have headaches and feel weak after flare-ups.

“I would also generally feel like my brain was on go-slow.”

Most people with IBS have a sensitive gut and their symptoms can be triggered by stress, diet, mood, or lifestyle changes.

However, given the right guidance, including support from the IBS Network, people can help relieve their symptoms through self-management.

Over the years, Claire has learned to research the condition using online resources, and by educating herself, and gaining support from The IBS Network charity she has slowly worked out what triggers her own IBS symptoms.

Eliminating certain foods such as onion, garlic, lactose and fructose, as well as taking peppermint capsules and probiotics have also helped.

Claire added: “I am a member of The IBS Network charity and I wish I’d found them much earlier in my quest to find out what was going on in my body. T

“hey have loads of up to date trustworthy information, provide access to medical experts, sensitive gut recipes and local support groups where you can get together with others who truly understand.”

If you have been diagnosed with IBS or are a healthcare professional interested in attending The IBS Network’s conference at Sheffield Hallam University, tickets can be bought from £5 via the charity’s website, or call 0114 272 3253.

To join or donate to the charity, please go online and visit