Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Commonly known as IBS, irritable bowel syndrome is a long term digestive condition affecting millions of people. Symptoms vary from person to person, but commonly include stomach cramps, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea. It seems to affect more women than men, and IBS can flare up for days or weeks at a time.

If you struggle with well-known symptoms of IBS and think you may have the condition, it’s a good idea to speak to your GP to try and identify triggers and combat the symptoms. If you’ve been diagnosed with IBS, you can chat to a doctor to help manage the condition.

IBS symptoms

IBS is often a lifelong condition, however the symptoms come and go. You may not experience symptoms every day, but something will cause a bout of IBS which could last for weeks. Symptoms come and go in episodes and are usually caused by triggers, but these triggers are different in each sufferer. Most triggers are certain foods or drinks. Here are some of the most common symptoms of IBS:

  • A change in bowel movements – constipation, diarrhoea or both
  • Stomach pain and cramping
  • Bloating and excessive wind

Additionally the condition can be related to bladder problems, nausea and a lack of energy.

What causes IBS?

The cause of irritable bowel syndrome is not fully understood, but it could be because the gut is over sensitive. People with IBS have a digestive system which allows food to move through it either too quickly or too slowly, causing diarrhoea and constipation. Some experts think that the problem lies within the digestive nerve signals which send messages to the brain. There is also a direct relationship with mental health, as emotions such as stress and anxiety can cause disruption in the digestive system and worsen IBS symptoms.

Treatment for IBS

To enable to treat IBS, it’s important to identify the triggers which are causing the symptoms. Your doctor may ask you to keep a food diary to try and see which food and beverages are causing the symptoms. There are various other steps you can take to manage the condition, including stress reducing techniques, regular exercise and changing your diet.

Each case of IBS is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all treatment. Book a consultation with a GP who can discuss different medications and coping mechanisms, so it doesn’t have a negative impact on your daily life.