IBS Network


Hi I'm new here. I'm 35 and I suffer lower abdominal cramps, bloating, trapped gas, constipation but go every 2/3 days. I also bleed sometimes and been told I have internal hemoroids. My joints ache when I'm having stomach cramps. I'm terrified it's colon cancer as they are all the symptoms. My stools are not always hard when I do go. I also get mucas sometimes. I'm petrified. I haven't been diagnosed with ibs.

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This may not help everyone but a few years ago I was suffering from constant stomach issues from bloating to cramps to constipation to diarrhoea and no two days were the same. It was very hard to live with and very upsetting. The doctor told me I had IBS and to try eliminating one food at a time, e.g. Gluten, dairy etc to see what worked. This made no difference.

I then went to the health food store Holland and Barrett (in the UK) as they take a blood sample and test it for you. The nutritionist said it could be a number of things but also asked if I ate atificial sweetener. I did, (on a very regular basis), as I was trying to lose some weight and thought that diet foods would help. He then told me the first piece of advice he would give me would be to give this up, especially aspartame as it is a chemical which is not supposed to be ingested in large quantities and has an extremely negative effect on lots of people. I was eating it all the time -

Sweetener in my cereal and in coffee/tea

Diet coke, sprite etc

Cordial (most of the full sugar ones also have a percentage of sweetener in them now as well). In fact the only cordial I can find in tesco without sweetener is Ribena full sugar.

- low fat yoghurts (SOoooo many of them! Even Activia low fat which is supposed to be good for your gut)

- flavoured water!!!!!

- some fresh orange and apple juice

- some cheap ciders and flavoured beers

- some full sugar soda e.g schweppes tonic, lemonade and supermarket own brands

-lucozade sport

-sugar free chewing gum and mints

-lite hot chocolate drinks

The list goes on and on and on.

It is also in several medicines that are sweetened, e.g. Lemsip and I have also heard it is in Imodium (how ironic seeing as it is supposed to calm diarrhoea!)

There is also sweetener in some of the probiotic drinks we are constantly being told will settle our stomach for the day ahead, e.g actimel

It takes a while but I started by checking every label and avoiding all artificial sweetener. These have many different names but common (in the Uk) are aspartame, Sucralose, saccharin etc.

Overnight my problems disappeared! My stomach literally returned to being calm and normal for the first time in years and I have been fine ever since.

I also told my mum and sister as they had worse problems than me. My mum was diagnosed in 1985 with IBS and had always just "managed" it. They both were cured as well by cutting out sweetener. My sister had been at the stage of giving up her job as a fitness instructor as her stomach was so bad she couldn't get through a class. The sweetener in the lucozade sport she was drinking at every class was causing it.

This was all in 2007 and since then I have told many people who have not believed me at first but once they have seriously checked all labels and tried it, they have been amazed.

My mum said it made sense for her, at the lowfat diet industry started in the 1980s and that is when she started getting IBS. Also it often seems to be women who have more issues and in my experience more women than men buy these products. The only man I ever helped by telling him was my brother in law who was in agony and on a diet before his wedding. He had been stocking up on low sugar products and this was what caused his pain.

I have also read recently that stomach issues in children have increased massively since 1990 and researchers are trying to find out why. Every child I know is constantly being given low sugar juice, yogurt etc as their parents think they are healthier. Before the 1990's no one drank low sugar juice etc as a child.

I believe that the food industry know the risks of sweetener but make far too much money from it (one tea spoon of sweetener is a tiny fraction of the price of sugar).

This is well worth trying, it has changed my life. If you are worried about weight gain, I found I lost weight by eating more natural products and regular sugar when I feel like it.

I hope this helps someone!



Thats interesting Vicki, before i got my coeliac diagnosis i was drinking flavoured water with it in to ' help' me go to the loo as i suffered constipation - and it did !

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Totally agree. Stopping artificial sweeteners has definitely helped me, I have also reduced all products containing sugar opting for natural sugar such as pure honey, coconut sugar. Massive improvement!


Oh my gosh, Vikki! Thank you so, so many times for sharing all this. I've had IBS since my late teens and I have to say, out of the decade I've spent learning and researching, your information is pretty new. I know this will be enormously helpful to so many of us, especially when we keep getting "flare-ups" and can't figure out what the trigger is! You're a life saver.

Note (to add to your rockin' list up there): Aspartame is also in Alka Seltzer products. I actually noticed this for the first time last night, oddly enough! Then I come on here and what do ya know, there's the post by Vikki explaining the link. Talk about synchronicity. ;)

I try to avoid aspartame and most artificial sweeteners at all costs. I've always been extremely put-off by artificial sweeteners and can always taste them in any drink or sweet foods, so it wasn't difficult for me to begin avoiding them. When I learned about the dangers of aspartame (particularly on the brain,) I made an even bigger effort to avoid it. ;)

One more "secret" ingredient that can cause flare-ups: Mannitol. It's in everything from nutritional supplements to OTC pain relievers and not many people know that it has a tendency to create a lot of pain for people with sensitive guts, especially IBS.


Yu sound really scared, but don't be. First lets deal with the pain. When you get those cramps in the lower bowel area it usually is trapped air. Take Buscopan for cramps as soon as you feel them starting. Next let's deal with the bloating and general unhealthy of the bowels. This is a very old remedy. Take a cup of hot water from the kettle every morning, nothing in it, just the water. After that you can eat about half an hour later, giving the water time to help clean your bowels and settle your tummy down. It is so simple but it has been used for centuries by herbalists and the auld village spay wife! The mucus is just that. the bowels produce it to ease the path of your stools, but if it is excessive, go to the doc. A good healthy diet with plenty of fibre or bran might help to regulate them. I wish you luck.


Hi Ktphlps!

It sounds lke you definatly need to see a Dr if you havent already. Try not to worry about it and just tell your Dr your symptoms. Bleeding is not usually a symptom of colon cancer and once you have a colonoscopy they will know for sure whats going on up there. Im a 40 yr old female and have had 4 already. They are not bad at all. Even though all the Drs ive seen have not given me a whole lot of answers for my IBS, I would still start there and your PCP can refer you to a gastroenterologist. Good luck!! Im here if you need a friend!!

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I have started using Probotics and seen a huge improvement. kefir yogurt at first but tasted awful so now taking a concentrated tablet every day. A huge huge improvement. I have been following a FODMAP regime for 3 years. I am ncgs gluten sensitive but have a high intolerance/allergy to onions. And all things fake, preservatives, fake sugers, glucose etc. This I have know for most of my life. I never handled it properly UntiI hit rock bottom and my brilliant Mum who is a Nutritionalist help me. She tried for a long time, but until you except there is an issue you aren't ready. I asked for help. My life has changed in every way. The battle is always there but so much easier.

I can now talk about it rather than hide. I sleep better. Can go out. Drive long distance, am happy, and in control.

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