Gut health embarrassment

Posted on: 20 September 2019 by 50connect editorial

New research reveals people are shying away from discussing gut health

gut health

Over half of us (59%) are suffering with gut health symptoms, but new research for Love Your Gut Week (16-22 September 2019) reveals the shocking extent to which people are shying away from talking about their digestive health with friends and family, colleagues and even medical professionals. This is despite the huge impact that gut health conditions can have on every aspect of daily life. 

Nearly 2 in 3 people say they would rather discuss sex than digestive health and 4 in 5 would prefer to talk about money or relationships. Nearly 9 out of 10 respondents (86%) would rather ask for a pay rise than talk about gut health and a similar amount (85%) would find it easier to break up with a partner or ask for a divorce, over discussing digestion. 

Of those experiencing gut health symptoms, close to a third (28%) have not visited a medical professional to discuss these and many (31%) are not even sharing their digestive health worries with those closest to them. When respondents were asked about who had approached them to talk about gut health worries, only 1 in 5 people said their partner had tried to talk to them about this. 

The results show that digestive health is most definitely considered a taboo topic, but it is important that people don’t suffer in silence, as gut health conditions can have a big impact on all areas of life. Of those with digestive health issues, 1 in 3 say they worry about leaving the house in case they aren’t able to find a bathroom and 1 in 10 take a change of underwear with them when going out. At work, 15% of people have worried about colleagues thinking they were ‘skiving’ when they have spent an extended period of time in the toilet and a similar amount have had to take a day off due to their gut health symptoms. One in 10 people have cancelled plans with friends due to digestive symptoms and a similar number have even suffered with depression because of it. 

The most common digestive health conditions:

  1. Constipation (19% of people are suffering, or have suffered from this)
  2. Frequent bloating (16%)
  3. Indigestion (16%)
  4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) (14%)
  5. Frequent flatulence (12%)
  6. Frequent heartburn or regurgitation (11%)
  7. Feeling tired, lethargic, feverish or generally unwell in association with abdominal symptoms (8%)
  8. Regular diarrhoea (8%)
  9. Frequent feelings of fullness (8%)
  10. Abdominal pain before or after meals (6%)

This new research reveals the benefits that talking can offer to those suffering with gut health conditions. Of those surveyed, over 1 in 3 (39%) said they felt less worried or stressed after talking to friends or family and 27% said these conversations prompted them to book a medical appointment.

After visiting and talking to a medical professional, close to 1 in 4 (23%) felt a sense of relief due to receiving a diagnosis, 17% felt less worried or stressed and a similar amount (16%) felt more confident on how to manage their symptoms.

Suffering gut health issues in silence can be isolating, stressful and even make symptoms worse, so it is important for people to share their symptoms and worries with people who matter. As Love Your Gut dietitian Jo Travers says; “Talking about your problems puts the other people in your life in the picture, and this is no different for digestive issues. Dealing with digestive problems alone can be stressful and isolating. Once your partner, friend or co-worker knows the challenges you face, you can give them the opportunity not only to understand your situation, but also to support you.”

Love Your Gut is actively encouraging everyone to discuss digestive health worries during Love Your Gut Week (16-22 September 2019) to lessen the ‘talking taboo’. To that end they are launching a new free-to-download #GutTalk Guide at www.loveyourgut.com. The guide contains expert tips on how to talk to your GP, friends & family, employers, colleagues and new love interests. In addition, you can talk to Love Your Gut dietitian Jo Travers about any gut health worries during her Facebook Live Q&A on 19 September 2019 from 19:00 and join in the conversation online using #GutTalk. 

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