Don’t suffer in silence. IBS is thought to affect 10-20% of people in the UK.

Whether your symptoms are recent, or you have been suffering in silence for a long time, specialist healthcare is available to help reduce, or relieve the pain and discomfort you are experiencing.

Diagnosing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the first step to getting your health back on track, as well as ruling out other gastroenterological conditions in the process, where similar symptoms apply.

Like many gastrointestinal conditions, IBS can be treated successfully following diagnosis, although at present there is no cure.

Irritable bowel symptoms

IBS symptoms vary person to person and can range from mild to severe.

Symptoms are known to come in bouts, also referred to as IBS flare-ups, meaning sometimes you may feel fine for weeks, followed by a period of feeling unwell.

Generally, symptoms include:

  • Bloated stomach, which feels uncomfortable and swollen
  • Excessive wind
  • An urgent need to go to the toilet, and a sense of relief afterwards
  • Abdominal pain and cramps, that feel like your stomach is contracting
  • Change in bowel habits, from constipation to diarrhoea, or a combination of both
  • Hard or loose stools on a regular basis
  • Passing clear or white mucus in your poo

These symptoms can also leave you feeling unwell in general and wider issues can arise, such as:

  • Feeling low of energy, due to lack of nutrient absorption, or just from managing symptoms
  • Feeling of nausea
  • Backache
  • Frequent urination, and need to pee urgently, or incontinence
  • Painful sex

What causes IBS?

The cause of IBS is still largely unknown although research relates the symptoms to issues with digestion.

People that suffer with IBS commonly have bouts of diarrhoea and constipation. Diarrhoea is generally caused when food moves too quickly through your digestive tract and results in the liquid from food not being extracted sufficiently by the body.

The reverse happens with constipation, in that the food moves slowly through the digestive system, and in turn, too much liquid is extracted making stools too hard.

This could be related to the brain to gut signals being disrupted in some way that causes digestion to increase or decrease in speed.

Other thoughts relate to:

  • Increased sensitivity of the gut
  • Psychological issues, such as stress
  • Certain food and drinks that trigger symptoms

Consultation with a specialist that can conduct the necessary diagnosis tests is the first step.

IBS diagnosis

IBS is thought to affect 10-20% of the UK population to some degree or another. Young women are the most vulnerable to IBS, although it is not determined exactly why.

A specialist gastroenterologist carries out IBS diagnosis initially via consultation. As they have dealt with many similar cases they will be able to see how your symptoms correspond by talking with you and conducting a physical examination.

A stool and blood test will give other signs of IBS and occasionally an ultrasound of the abdominal area is required too.

During diagnosis, it is important for the doctor to eliminate the possibility of other conditions with similar symptoms. These could include:

  • Coeliac disease – an intolerance to gluten
  • Other food intolerances
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Bowel cancer

IBS treatment

There currently is no cure for IBS, but there are effective treatments that can help you to manage your symptoms.

For mild cases a simple change in lifestyle, diet and eating habits can help to eliminate pain and discomfort.

IBS treatment options can include:

  • Change in diet to ensure the correct level and type of fibre intake
  • Change in eating habits to ensure you have sufficient time to digest your food
  • Exercise and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Reducing stress levels
  • Probiotics that can help improve digestive health
  • Medication, including:
    • Antispasmodics, to reduce stomach cramping
    • Laxatives, to ease constipation
    • Antimotility medicines, to help with diarrhoea

There isn’t a one-size fit all with IBS treatment. It is a case of working with your doctor and a registered dietician to find the solution that works best for you.

Your health is our goal

Whether your symptoms are recent or you have been suffering with a gastrointestinal condition over the longer term, specialist healthcare is available to help reduce, or relieve the pain and discomfort you are experiencing.

To arrange a consultation, please contact our specialist team.