There is an estimated 14 million people in the UK living with a bladder control problem and 6.5 million living with a bowel control problem.  Of all the illnesses that affect the gut, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common. It is a major source of mental and physical ill health that affects over 12 million (approximately 15%) people in the UK and costs the tax payer at least 200 million pounds per annum. 
Ahead of our Online Clinic on Bladder, Bowel and Digestive Health (6-10 July 2015), we ran a survey to find out more about how many of our members are living with bowel and digestive problems, what type of symptoms they are experiencing and where they go for information about their condition.
Out of the 405 members who completed our survey, 70% are suffering from bowel or digestive problems of which 74% have been diagnosed by a medical professional. We had a wide age range from under 20 to over 60, predominantly from the UK with a small percentage from outside the UK (2%).
What conditions are our members living with?
We wanted to know what conditions our members are living with and what impact it is having on their lives. IBS is the most common condition our members have with 51% feeling it is the condition that effects their life most. 14% of those who answered the survey have gastro-oesophageal reflux disease and other less common problems including Chron’s Disease (2%), Ulcerative Colitis (2%) and Gastroparesis (2%). Other conditions specified include constipation, intolerances and acid reflux.
What symptoms are people experiencing?
Our members who are living with a bowel or digestive condition are experiencing a range of symptoms:
- 95% Stomach pain or cramping
- 94% Bloating or swelling of the stomach
- 94% Excessive wind
- 84% Urgent need to go to the toilet
- 83% A feeling of not completely emptying bowels
- 78% Constipation
- 77% Heartburn
- 76% Diarrhoea
- 68% Passing mucus
Most of those who answered the survey, use a change in diet (54%) or prescribed medication (46%) to combat their symptoms. Other less popular methods include exercise, probiotics, and peppermint oil.
How does living with these conditions effect daily life?
We found that 68% experience intense or very intense feeling of a lack of energy which is one of the most common symptoms people are experiencing. 56% feel that their bowel symptoms have a detrimental effect on their performance at work or usual daytime activities and 50% have been late for work or daily activities due to their symptoms.
- 93% have had problems with their sleep due to their symptoms 80% feel physically exhausted and tired
- 80% avoid food they like because they are afraid they might cause digestive or bowel symptoms and 60% are concerned about eating out.
- 73% feel anxious or depressed because of their symptoms.
- 42% feel that their bowel symptoms interfere with their relationships.
Where to go for advice
The majority (52%) do not find it easy to talk about their condition with friends and family and predominantly prefer to find their information on the internet (78%) or through a GP (56%). 30% do not feel that information is readily available. Our Online Clinic on Bladder, Bowel and Digestive Health expert Q&A is now open for viewing only.
If you need support or advice then why not post in our forums:
Alternatively you can email us with your concerns and queries and we can post anonymously for you.