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Alexandra Burke speaks out on her secret health battle with IBS

Alexandra Burke speaks out on her secret health battle with IBS

IBS – or Irritable Bowel Syndrome – is a common condition that affects the digestive system

Alexandra Burke has opened up about her secret health battle with IBS, which she said would leave her in ‘agony’ while performing on stage.

IBS – or Irritable Bowel Syndrome – is a common condition that affects the digestive system, causing a variety of symptoms including stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.

According to the NHS, the exact cause is unknown, but has been linked to issues like food passing through the gut either too quickly or too slowly, oversensitive nerves in your gut, stress and a family history of the condition.

Burke, 34, appeared on This Morning to talk about the symptoms she’s experienced over the years to tie in with IBS Awareness Month.

She told presenters Dermot O’Leary and Alison Hammond how she started experiencing problems in her early 20s, ‘just after X-Factor'.

It got so bad that she would often skip meals before shows to avoid pain while performing.

“It's something that I was too shy and too ashamed to speak about – which you shouldn’t be, really,” she said.

“And all those symptoms are things that you don’t naturally just want to talk about, but here I am talking about it now, and I feel like it’s a good time to talk about it because people are going through it every single day.”

Burke continued: “I was getting loads of cramps, the constant feeling of wanting to go to toilet.

“Just the pain was the main thing after eating food – the cramping sensation is the biggest sign that you get after eating, and that for me was the worst one because I'd be on stage having to put a smile on my face and literally be in agony.

Alexandra Burke has opened up about her painful IBS symptoms.

“If I ate a meal beforehand or whatever it was, it would literally just occur on stage and I wouldn’t know what do to.”

Burke didn’t go to the doctor ‘for years’, feeling it was such a ‘taboo subject’.

She tried everything from meditation and yoga to exercising more and eliminating ‘certain things’, but while she said this helped ‘to a degree mentally’, nothing really helped her tummy.

Eventually, she went to her GP and was recommended to try a probiotic product.

“Finally, I went to my GP and she suggested this amazing product called Symprove,” Burke said.

“And then I started taking that, and it’s been my life-changing friend.”

Dr Nighat said women tend to experience IBS more than men, with three main types of the condition – IBS-C, which means you’re regularly ‘constipated with bloating symptoms’, IBS-D, with diarrhoea as your main symptom, and IBS-mix, a combination of two.

She explained how different types of the condition will require different approaches for treatment – with IBS-C requiring more fibre in the diet and potentially probiotics.

Burke was joined on the sofa by Dr Nighat.

“If it’s cramping you get then Buscopan really works,” Nighat said. “Mebeverine might work against that.

“If you’ve got diarrhoea then very rarely, sparingly, I might say Loperamide.”

Nighat also said doctors have to exclude other conditions or issues before diagnosing IBS, including Coeliac disease, bowel cancer and ovarian cancer.

"Unfortunately, there is no cure for it because it's so multi-factorial and not one-size-fits-all, and it's on a spectrum," she added.

"I have IBS symptoms, and I know what my triggers are. It's usually about the time of my cycle, and I know it's foods - because I eat a lot of chocolate and I can't stop doing it so I'm a flawed individual! - so I know I can control all of that.

"Stress, unfortunately, is really hard to control - stress is the biggest thing."

Of course, 'curing' stress isn't exactly straightforward, but avoiding a big tub of chocolate ice cream if you'll know you'll regret it later is at least doable. Well, kind of...

Featured Image Credit: ITV

Topics: Celebrity, Health, This Morning