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Irritable Bowel Syndrome - Dealing With Sickness, Sick Leave And Time Off Work

Updated on November 22, 2016

It’s inevitable – if you have IBS you will sometimes at least consider taking time off work. Of course it’s not surprising – with a laundry list of symptoms like gut discomfort (eased by moving the bowels), variation in bowel habits and in type of stools,1 some days it can be hard to suck it up and just keep going as you plough through your workload. What’s surprising is how little many of us actually resort to taking the odd sick day – not that sometimes it actually happens. But with current economic conditions, it’s natural to feel a little concern about career prospects and job security, and how they may be impacted by necessary sick-leave due to irritable bowel syndrome.

Bad Tummy Times

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome Links

* IBS Tales: Stories of IBS

IBS personal stories and a range of information on IBS symptoms and treatment. All IBS sufferers welcome. This site is run by Sophie who has had IBS since she was 12.

* A Community for Irritable Bowel Syndrome Sufferers |

Dependable irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) causes, symptoms, support and treatment for sufferers, family and friends since 1987. An IBS community providing characteristics for diagnosis of symptoms and treatment, forums and chat rooms to talk about ib

* Irritable Bowel Syndrome ~ Help For IBS Treatments & Education

Help for IBS has information, support, and immediate tangible help for all Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms. By Heather Van Vorous, an IBS patient and best-selling IBS author.

Do IBS Sufferers Take More Time Off Work?

How much, on average, do IBS sufferers feel obliged to take some time off work? A 1999 study by Hahn et al2 compares US and UK IBS sufferers and has found that, out of the people surveyed, almost one third lost a working day out of four working weeks examined. When you think about it, that’s a lot of working days if you extrapolate it to the population of IBS sufferers as a whole. And it probably feels like even more if you're the sufferer, and worried about job security in an increasingly unstable job market.

What can you do if you feel concerned at your history of having to take sick-leave, or your future likelihood of it? I think that if you’re currently employed, you may want to co-operate closely with your employer and reassure them that you are pro-actively managing your condition and not just waiting and hoping for the best. If you’re looking for work, then you can put your working history in its best light and again reassure prospective employers that you always get proper medical advice and optimally manage your ailment.

Of course an employer's concerns may be overstated if you have a diagnosed condition. If you are aware that your sickleave record is in fact pretty damn good, even when compared to colleagues with no prior medical condition, you can probably find a way to tactfully bring that fact to the attention of your employer. It’s amazing just how well many IBS sufferers do cope and manage to churn out the work, in spite of their condition or popular perception of its consequences. Blow your own trumpet a little!


1. O'Hare, L. "The Irritable Bowel Syndrome Sourcebook." New York: Contemporary Books, 2001.

2. Hahn, B.A., Yan, S., Strassels, S. "Impact of Irritable Bowel Syndrome on Quality of Life and Resource Use in the United States and United Kingdom." Intestine. 60 (1999):77-81.


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