Around one in five people will suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (known as IBS) in their lifetime, and if you suffer from this condition, then you will understand the pain and discomfort felt in the abdomen and in the nerves and muscles associated with the digestive system and gut.
A long-term condition that causes the bowel to be very sensitive, people who live with irritable bowel syndrome can experience both mild symptoms and discomfort, as well as more extreme, debilitating symptoms.
How do you know if you have IBS?
People who suffer from IBS will experience all or some of the following symptoms from time to time: pain and discomfort in the abdomen, muscle pain, heartburn, cramping, bloated abdomen, gas, indigestion, nausea, feelings of fullness, diarrhoea and constipation.
What causes IBS?
Unfortunately, the exact cause of IBS still hasn’t been discovered, however research suggests that it is caused by over-activity of the gut such as overactive contractions of the muscles in the abdomen. As well as this, increased sensitivity to the amount of gas in the bowel and increased serotonin levels can also be factors.
Although not necessarily a cause, some research suggests that intense feelings of anxiety or stress can trigger irregular bowels and worsen symptoms of IBS, so it makes sense that by keeping your emotional state in check, you can help to ease your IBS symptoms too.
How can IBS be helped?
There is still no cure for IBS as the cause hasn’t yet been found, however there are certain treatments that can help to lessen the symptoms and make it easier on those who suffer from irritable bowels. Hypnotherapy is a recognised IBS treatment by the National Institute for health and Care Excellence (NICE), and it can be a big help for those who suffer.
As well as a controlled diet, and cognitive behavioural therapy, hypnotherapy and relaxation training can all be combined to treat IBS to some degree. Through hypnotherapy you can learn relaxation techniques, and new ways to manage stress, anxiety and tension, which often trigger symptoms of IBS. While each hypnotherapist, and each hypnotherapy session can differ, treatment for IBS usually involves visualisation, goal setting, recognising and learning techniques to cope with stress, and learning self-hypnosis techniques which you can use to continue your therapy at home. Some therapists will also offer you a CD which will help you to stay focused and moving forward between sessions.
It is worth noting that most people find six one-hour sessions or 12 half-hour sessions to be the most effective forms of treatment, whilst some people will see results after just one or two sessions.