What is TikTok's latest trend #HotGirlsHaveIBS?

·3-min read
Photo credit: Oscar Wong
Photo credit: Oscar Wong

TikTok trends are aplenty, with viral pink sauce recipes and even sex toy trends, but is the latest trend - #HotGirlsHaveIBS good for IBS sufferers, or potentially dangerous?

The hashtag, which shows women talking about symptoms of their IBS, in an attempt to normalise the condition, has gained 14 million hits on the social media site.

Of course, some of us are familiar with IBS, aka irritable bowel syndrome, with two in 10 of us thought to suffer from some of its symptoms - including bloating and bowel changes. Some of us even have to avoid our favourite foods, like pizza or desserts, in a bid to avoid the symptoms.

Nadya Okamoto, author of Period Power, has spoken openly about her IBS on the platform. One of her most popular videos, where she talks about how she's been constipated for a week, has had over 300,000 views.

Another popular TikTok video, with nearly 30,000 likes, shows how one woman's body changes from day to night, with her stomach becoming more and more bloated after eating every meal or snack.

Dr Claire Shortt, nutritionist and lead Scientist at FoodMarble says IBS, can 'vary a lot between patients', however, she goes on to say the condition is 'often characterised by symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, and gas. An alteration in bowel movements is key to the symptomatology of IBS, with sufferers noting a change in stool consistency and/or frequency.'

But, is self-diagnosing IBS, via a social media platform, the right way to go about it?

In a word, no it's not, as Shortt explains: 'Due to the cross-over of symptoms between IBS and multiple other gastrointestinal conditions and disorders it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate and reliable diagnosis. This will also ensure that you get the correct treatment for your symptoms.'

However, with so many people normalising the subject, it means brands are too - Wild Dose, a natural supplement for bloating, was founded by Charles Instone after suffering from IBS and finding bloating was his most common symptom. He takes to TikTok regularly, to share responsible content about his symptoms, plus also to show men that it's not just women who suffer from IBS or bloating.

So, is talking about it, and consuming the videos safe? 'Normalising IBS on social media is definitely a good thing. It affects around 11% of the population globally, so it’s a very common issue and the IBS TikTok trend is helping to raise awareness of this common issue and help other people feel less alone,' says Nutrition and Health Coach, Nina Fava, at Able.

But it comes with a warning: 'We should be wary about taking advice from creators on TikTok. Everyone’s IBS symptoms and triggers vary, so it’s always best to seek a professional opinion,' she adds.

Shortt also adds that occasional IBS symptoms are usually nothing to worry about - but 'if they become a common occurrence and begin to interfere with your daily life then it’s definitely best to seek expert advice to find the cause of your symptoms.'

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