Have I got IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic and often life-long problem, which has bad periods and better periods (doctors call this a relapsing disorder).

Symptoms of IBS:

  • Abdominal pain which is associated with having a bowel movement
  • Constipation and/or diarrhoea
  • Tummy bloating and tension
  • Needing to have a bowel movement more than 3 times a day or less than 3 times a week.
  • Feeling that the bowel doesn’t completely empty when using the toilet (called incomplete evacuation)
  • Mucous from the back passage when straining to have a bowel movement
  • Tiredness
  • Backache
  • Bladder symptoms
  • Wind (farting) – doctors call this ‘flatus’.

Who gets IBS?

About 10-15% of the population have IBS and it’s twice as common in women as men.  Up to 80% of people won’t see their doctor about it.

What causes IBS?

The exact cause of IBS is unknown but doctors believe there can be many factors that trigger it, such as bacterial gastroenteritis infection, low fibre diet, it can run in families, stress and psychological factors.

For whatever reason, the bowel of the IBS sufferer has abnormalities of its muscular tone (think of the bowel as a long muscular tube that pushes food/waste along).  This means that the movement of its contents isn’t as smooth and coordinated as it should be – some bits moving and some staying still – and this causes the symptoms.

Should I see my doctor about IBS?

Most people don’t see their doctor – perhaps because they’re too embarrassed – but it’s

important to make sure that your symptoms aren’t caused by a more serious disease.

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, feel your abdomen and perhaps do some blood tests for anaemia and/or thyroid problems.

You should definitely see him if you have:

  • Unintentional or unexpected weight loss
  • Bleeding from your back passage, even if you think it’s HAEMORRHOIDS
  • A family history of bowel or ovarian cancer
  • Are over 60 years of age and have looser or more frequent bowel habits that persists for more than 6 weeks.

There are several diseases and disorders that can mimic IBS so it’s better to be safe than sorry.  And your doctor will be able to help with IBS REMEDIES AND TREATMENTS.

Elspeth Raisbeck

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