It’s thought that every two in 10 people living in the UK has irritable bowel syndrome. An extremely high number, alongside IBS, many individuals also live with urinary incontinence.

Below, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about IBS and urinary incontinence.

What is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome, most commonly referred to as IBS is a condition that affects the digestive system of millions of people around the globe.

A lifelong condition, it can have a huge impact on the day to day life of individuals, which can be frustrating due to symptoms such as stomach cramps, bloating and constipation occurring. While these symptoms can come and go, lasting for days and in some cases weeks at a time, it’s important to remember that everyone is different when it comes to the symptoms.

While the causes are unknown and there is no cure, those living with IBS will be glad to know that there are things they can do to help manage the condition.

Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

There are four major symptoms that affect those living with IBS. These are;

  • Stomach pains or cramps
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation

Aside from these, there are several other symptoms that can be caused by IBS, such as;

  • Backache
  • Feeling sick
  • Tiredness/lack of energy
  • Flatulence
  • Passing mucus from your bottom

On top of this, another major symptom that can occur because of IBS is urinary incontinence.

IBS and urinary incontinence

Due to IBS being a group of symptoms affecting your bowel habits, there’s an overlap between irritable bowel syndrome and urinary incontinence that many people don’t know about. Therefore, if you are experiencing both at the same time, you’re not alone.

Brought on by many of the same triggers, such as stress, the symptoms of urinary incontinence experienced by those living with IBS often include;

  • Urinary urgency
  • Frequent urination
  • Nocturia (the need to urinate at night)
  • Incomplete emptying of the bladder

Evidence has shown that women who have irritable bowel syndrome are more likely to be affected by urinary incontinence than men, however, men can also be affected by both at the same time. Women tend to be most affected while menstruating or during pregnancy.

However, there are things you can do to help.

Managing IBS and urinary incontinence

While there is no cure for IBS, there are a number of ways you can manage it in your day to day life. This can be done through lifestyle and diet changes, while there are a number of exercises you can do, alongside products you can buy to help you manage urinary incontinence alongside IBS.

When it comes to your diet, you should look to avoid the following;

  • Dairy products
  • Insoluble fibre
  • Sugar-free sweeteners
  • Caffeine (including coffee and chocolate)
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Fatty foods
  • Fried foods
  • Processed foods
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Beans and legumes
  • Gluten

Meanwhile, the food you can continue to enjoy, or should look to add to your diet, include;

  • Lactose-free dairy products
  • Dairy-free alternatives
  • Some cheeses such as feta and brie
  • Tofu
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • Fish
  • Vegetables such as aubergine, cucumber, lettuce, carrots, turnips and potatoes
  • Fruits such as melon, kiwi, cantaloupe and strawberries

When it comes to urinary incontinence, a number of the food products you should cut out or add to your diet are very similar, which should help. You should also ensure you continue to drink water as cutting it out too much can irritate the bladder. Meanwhile, Kegel exercises have been found to help strengthen your pelvic floor, and, as they can be done anywhere, you’ll be able to do these at your own leisure.

While you may adopt lifestyle and diet changes, on top of exercising to strengthen your pelvic floor, as there is no cure to IBS, the chances of continuing urinary incontinence are quite high. However, there are plenty of products on the market to help you out, such as incontinence pads, that can be worn discreetly inside your underwear throughout the day to help keep you protected as you go about your business.

If you’re unsure of the types of products available, or what ones will work best for you, why don’t you get in touch? A member of our team will be more than happy to help point you in the right direction.

You can do this by calling us on 01204 895410 between 9 am and 5 pm Monday – Friday and one of our members of staff will be more than happy to help. Alternatively, you can use the enquiry form here, and someone will get back to you within 24-hours.