This study has several key aims. It will determine how commonly IBS is diagnosed in individuals with hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. It will look at how both groups of people use the healthcare system and how they view their quality of life. It will also measure a variety of other known symptoms, such as bowel sensitivity and function, the function of the autonomic system and emotional well-being.

What is the autonomic system?The part of the nervous system that governs involuntary functions such as peristalsis (the way the gut contracts to move our food from mouth to anus).

The research team

The new student will be supervised by Professor Qasim Aziz at the Wingate Institute for Neurogastroenterology at Queen Mary University.

Why study the relationship between IBS and hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is common but what causes the condition remains unknown. The team have previously found that around 40% of IBS patients also have hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (hEDS), which is disorder of connective tissue.

The true extent of the overlap between the two conditions has yet to be confirmed as does how these patients use the healthcare system, physiological aspects of the conditions (how their guts function) and the personal impact of living with the conditions.

By understanding of scale of overlap between IBS and hEDS, and by identifying differences in how patients use the health care system together with the other features of this study, doctors will be able to better identify the needs of their patients and provide more tailored and appropriate care.

Understanding the conditions better will also lead to more rapid diagnosis for people, and the information gained from this project will help us to design much needed clinical trials for patients with IBS and hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome in future.