Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the name which is given to a whole lot of unexplained symptoms from a disturbance of the large intestine. About a third of the population are affected at some time in their lives. About one in ten people have symptoms which is severe enough to seek help from their GP.
In my blog today I would like to give you some information on this condition as I know many of you people suffering with Chronic Fatigue Conditions also suffer from IBS.
Symptoms can be:
Pain and spasms in the abdomen which can be relieved by going to the toilet.
Diarrhoea, constipation or erratic bowel habit
Swelling or bloating of abdomen
Excessive passage of wind and rumbling noises
Urgency to visit toilet and incontinence if a toilet is not nearby
Sharp pain low down in the rectum
Feeling as if there has been incomplete bowel movement
There are many diagnostic tests which can be carried out such as X-rays, blood tests and endoscopies but the results may not reveal any obvious abnormality.
You can also experience symptoms in other parts of the body such as dizziness, headache, backache, passing urine frequently, muscle and joint pains, indigestion, tiredness, ringing in ears, nausea and belching. There may be an alteration in sensitivity .
Do get a diagnosis from a qualified medical professional and do not self diagnose. Once you have a confirmed diagnosis you may not need to have further investigations. This will help you save a lot of time waiting for tests that may not help.
Please understand your illness and self management is key. You can obtain information from IBS Network who provide a web delivered self management programme.
IBS is a disorder of bowel function and so there is no damage to the gut and it is not likely to increase your likelihood for developing cancer.
Please learn how your lifestyle and diet can affect you. It is important that you do not try and do too much. Learn to regard your stomach as your alarm system. If it alerts you to a problem slow down and relax and take a break. You can try talking to others about your problem. Remember it is most important to listen to your body!
As far as food is concerned you should not eliminate food from your diet but you should remember your gut is more sensitive when you have a flare up. It is an excellent idea to keep a food diary so you can work out which foods cause you the most trouble. People often have problems with fatty foods, high fibre foods, coffee and spices. You may find a more bland diet may help you but you should aim to return to your normal balanced diet when you are feeling better. You may find soluble fibre from rolled oats, bananas and beans is better for your gut than insoluble fibre found in bran and whole oats.
Your mood also plays a big part in the problem. People often feel angry, anxious and depressed. Levels of these can change from moment to moment. Try and understand why this is happening.
Complementary therapies such as reflexology, massage, relaxation, hypnotherapy have been found to help as they follow a holistic route.
Probiotics can be helpful in regulating the bowel. Give one brand a month trial and if it does not work try another one. They are good for proliferating the growth of your natural bacteria in the gut.
You should be careful not to fall trap to any quack cures. Always see someone who belongs to an association and has been properly trained.
Do not let your condition alienate you from talking to friends and family. Even today the subject of toilet can be difficult. Remember you are not alone! It can also prevent you from getting the right help from your GP.