By anguillian November 14, 2016 11:52




One of the most common disorders of the large bowel is that of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic condition that you will need to manage long term. Fortunately, it is not life-threatening, and it does not go on to cause cancer of the colon (large bowel).

What is irritable bowel syndrome?
Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder of the large bowel (colon). It is more common in women and most individuals first get it in their late teens to early 40s. It commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhoea and constipation.

What are some common symptoms of IBS?
This disorder is a syndrome, and symptoms will vary from one individual to another. Stress can make all symptoms worse. Common symptoms include the following:
• Diarrhoea (often described as violent episodes of diarrhoea)
• Constipation
• Constipation alternating with diarrhoea
• A great amount of gas or bloating
• Belly pains or cramps, usually in the lower half of the belly, that get worse after meals and feel better after a bowel movement
• Harder or looser stool than normal
• A belly that sticks out
• Urinary problems
• Sexual problems

What causes IBS?
It is not known exactly what causes irritable bowel syndrome, but a variety of factors play a role.

There are no specific blood tests or investigations to confirm the diagnosis of IBS. Your doctor will see if your symptoms match with the definition of IBS, and he or she may run tests to rule out conditions that resemble IBS.

Most individuals with IBS can be successfully treated, but it often takes a lot of time and different approaches to achieve success. Not all treatment options work for everyone. Symptoms of IBS might be triggered by several things like certain foods (e.g. red peppers, green onions, red wine, wheat, and cow’s milk), medications, and stress. Individuals must know what are the common triggers for their symptoms and then discuss them with their healthcare provider. Often the individual might need to make some lifestyle changes as well. Also talk to your doctor about medications that can be used to help symptoms of IBS.

Lifestyle changes
In some individuals with IBS, a few changes in their diet and lifestyle activities can lessen the symptoms of IBS. Some helpful suggestions include the following:
• Avoid caffeine (in coffee, teas and sodas).
• Do not smoke
• Use more fibre in your diet with foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts.
• Drink at least three to four glasses of water per day.
• Learn to relax, either by getting more exercise or by reducing stress in your life.
• Limit how much milk you drink or cheese you eat.
• Eat smaller meals more often – instead of big meals.
• Keep a record of the foods you eat so you can figure out which foods bring on bouts of IBS.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common disorder and is often poorly managed by many professionals. The disorder might mimic many other bowel disorders and sometimes the diagnosis is delayed. It is a chronic disorder and many individuals often suffer needlessly. Living with irritable bowel syndrome presents daily challenges. It may be painful or embarrassing and can seriously affect the quality of your life. If you have symptoms suggestive of IBS see your doctor today.

Ask Your Doctor is a health education column and is not a substitute for medical advice from your physician. The reader should consult his or her physician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field are ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.

Dr Brett Hodge MB BS DGO MRCOG, is an Obstetrician/Gynaecologist and Family Doctor who has over thirty-two years in clinical practice. Dr Hodge has a medical practice in The Johnson Building in The Valley (Tel: 264 4975828).

By anguillian November 14, 2016 11:52


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