Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Leaflet

Author: Dr Marion Sloan, Specialist Commissioning Pharmacist

Published Date: June 2022

Date to Review: April 2023

Description: Leaflet includes information about Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Guidance For The treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome with constipation (IBS-C) in adults.

So your doctor has diagnosed Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

What is IBS?

    • IBS is a long term medical illness. It includes symptoms of abdominal discomfort, either abdominal cramping or bloating, and a disturbance in bowel habit, which might be diarrhoea or constipation or a pattern that alternates between both.

    • But people with IBS also experience other symptoms like urgency (needing to rush to the toilet), indigestion, frustrated defaecation (where you want to go but can’t), and backache, headache, tiredness, muscle pains, heartburn and needing to pass urine a lot.

What causes it?

    • There is no definite cause for IBS, but it is more common in people after a bout of food poisoning, a traumatic event or a big change in life.

    • IBS can come and go. Symptoms are triggered by stress or diet (food and mood).

What can I eat?

    • The bowel in IBS is often very sensitive and will react to gassy foods (many fruits and vegetables, wheat and in some people milk) that distend the gut or foods that cause it to contract, such as dairy, red meats, many ready or restaurant meals, coffee and spicy foods.

    • For more information on what you can eat and what you should try reducing, access The IBS Self Care Plan on The IBS Network’s website (

    • The Sheffield Community dietician service can provide 1-1 dietary advice. This is available via referral from your GP (you will need to have pre referral blood tests).

What about stress?

    • Stress can make the bowel sensitive and trigger symptoms. Don’t take on too much. Pace yourself. Take time out to relax. Avoid situations that trigger bouts of IBS.

What else can I do?

    • Keep a record of what is associated with flare ups of your IBS, such as changes in diet or life events. Share this with your doctor and try to identify predictable triggers.

    • Your doctor or pharmacist can advise you on what medications you can purchase to help calm your symptoms.

    • Many people find that the calming effect and the focused attention of complementary therapies very helpful.

    • Join the IBS community via The IBS Network

For more information on diet, stress, medication, diagnosis and all you need to know to manage your IBS, go to The IBS Network’s website and access The IBS Self Care Plan (

For IBS member benefits please go to

Irritable Bowel Syndrome guideline proposal.doc