If, like us, you spend approximately 78% of your day scrolling through TikTok, then you'll likely have come across the latest trend that is allllll over the social media platform. And nope, we're not talking about another omg-that-looks-so-good recipe or viral sleep hack.
In fact, there's over 14 million videos (and counting) using the #HotGirlsHaveIBS hashtag, and the viral trend trend is not only taking over our TikTok feeds, but also helping to break down the stigma when it comes to bloating – something which many people feel ashamed about experiencing and therefore suffer in silence with for far too long.
As you might have guessed from the hashtag, the trend is centred around the struggles that come with having IBS – a condition that around one in five people in the UK will experience at some point in their life, with two thirds of the people affected being women.
What is IBS?
Before we get into the #HotGirlsHaveIBS trend that's taking over TikTok, let's first understand what IBS actually is.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome – or IBS as it's better known – is a common condition that affects the digestive system, according to the NHS. What exactly causes IBS isn't known, but it's thought to be linked to food passing through your gut too quickly or too slowly, oversensitive nerves in your gut, stress and a family history of IBS.
Symptoms of IBS can include stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation – although they tend to come and go over time, symptoms can last for days, weeks or months at a time.
That being said, IBS is typically a lifelong issue, which the NHS describes as being "very frustrating to live with" with the potential to "have a big impact on your everyday life."
There's no cure for IBS, although lifestyle and diet changes – as well as medication – can often help to control symptoms.
What is the #HotGirlsHaveIBS TikTok trend?
With so many of us suffering with IBS – remember those stats that show two thirds of the people affected by IBS are women – it's a wonder that we're not more open about the struggles of the condition, which is why the #HotGirlsHaveIBS TikTok trend has come as a welcome breath of fresh air.
Understandably, not everyone feels comfortable talking about their bloated bellies and three hours spent hunched over the loo. But, as women come to the realisation that there's nothing to be ashamed of if you've got IBS – more and more of them are taking to TikTok to share their experience with the condition.
"People sharing their IBS stories has had a huge impact on IBS awareness," says Charles Instone, founder of Wild Dose, which offers 'natural relief for natural issues'.
"Relating to the symptoms has allowed more people to understand what might be happening with their bodies instead of just suffering without any knowledge as to why," he adds.
Instone – who also suffers with IBS – continues: "By seeing it more often and discussing it... it’s broken down the stigma of IBS and shown how common it is.
Avoid IBS self-diagnosis
That being said, whilst it's great that more attention is being given to a condition that impacts so many of us, self-diagnosing yourself with IBS based on what you've learnt via TikTok is not a good idea.
"[The trend has] helped people feel more comfortable, [but] it may have also helped encourage people to self-diagnose," Instone points out. "With many of the symptoms being relatable, like bloating, some people who have stomach issues may just think they have IBS."
He adds: "The danger of this is if people start self treating themselves for IBS, this may cause more problems if they don’t actually have it. If you’re seeing regular symptoms occur, like frequent bloating, then it’s best to see a doctor to aid with a diagnosis."
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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