Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is common. Up to 20% of the population experience symptoms: these include abdominal pain, bloating, wind, changes in bowel habit from constipation to diarrhea, including a sudden rush to go.
Symptoms vary from person to person, in a complex condition which can be a combination of excessive intestinal motility and heightened sensitivity. A mix of physical and stress related aspects is compounded by IBS itself being distressing.
Eating certain foods can also increase issues, although the pattern can again be very individual. Precise causes need to be evaluated by a consultant and a personal treatment plan put in place.
Diagnosis of IBS
IBS is a functional disorder, with no obvious diagnostic abnormalities within your digestive tract. Diagnosis is based on symptoms and normal investigations.
In our London clinics, we usually request blood and faecal analysis, to help eliminate other causes such as infection. A stool test called faecal calprotectin can confirm issues are being caused by an inflammatory bowel disease and help differentiate this from irritable bowel syndrome.
Treatment For IBS
Antispasmodic medication such as mebeverine or buscopan can relieve abdominal pain, especially if symptoms worsen soon after eating. Anti diarrheal agents can be useful, or laxatives, especially non stimulant laxatives, if the problem is constipation.
Medication to help with anxiety is a further option. Newer medications include linaclotide or prucalopride and can be very helpful to regulate constipation or abdominal pain with bloating.
All should naturally be used under the supervision of an experienced specialist and whilst they can relieve symptoms, most drugs bring additional, unwanted effects and may not be a long term solution.
Irritable bowel syndrome is often best treated through changes to diet, or lifestyle. Modifying the amount of soluble, or insoluble fibre in your diet is a known option and can help, although a detailed approach helps more.
Whilst generic approaches, such as a low FODMAP diet, may also assist, there is in reality no such thing as an IBS friendly diet. Only one to specifically suit you, often with lifestyle changes to match.
Supporting IBS Patients
Each patient with IBS needs an individualised approach. When you come for treatment in London, I will talk through your medical and family history, examine you and order any necessary tests.
I will work with you to understand your condition and how this can be controlled. Whether IBS is a new condition to you, or the issues are historic, every support will be offered. You are welcome to get in touch at any time.