Irritable Bowel Movement (IBS)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, often referred to as IBS, is a common condition that affects the digestive system. The characteristic symptoms of IBS include: stomach cramps, diarrhoea, constipation and bloating. Symptoms can come and go over time and last up to months at a time. IBS currently has no cure, no exact cause and is usually a lifelong problem. However, diet changes and medication can often help to control your symptoms.
You are likely to have IBS if:
- You have cramps and stomach pain (usually worse after eating and better after a bowel movement)
- You feel uncomfortably full and bloated
- You have loose, watery stools (diarrhoea) and need to use the toilet suddenly and frequently
- You have hard, difficult to pass stools (constipation) and feel as though you can’t empty your bowels properly
- Farting (flatulence)
- Passing mucus from your rectum
- You are tired frequently and lack energy
- You have back ache
- You may not always be able to control when you have a bowel movement (incontinence)
- You feel sick (nausea)
- You have problems urinating (need to urinate frequently, suddenly or feel as though you can’t fully empty your bladder)
When to see an expert at Ahmeys?
If you are experiencing the symptoms above and think that you may have IBS, we recommend that you call Ahmeys to book an appointment. One of our experts can check for IBS and conduct tests to confirm a diagnosis and rule out any other problems.
Call to make an urgent appointment with Ahmeysif:
- You have lost a lot of weight unintentionally
- You or your child have bloody diarrhoea or rectal bleeding
- Your stool is dark or black (this could indicate bleeding in the stomach)
- Feel as though you have a lump in your stomach
- Are experiencing severe pain and discomfort
- You are short of breath, have a rapid heartbeat (palpitations) and pale skin
These severe symptoms could indicate that you have a more serious condition and it is important to see a healthcare expert to review your symptoms.
The exact cause of IBS is unknown. It has been linked to food passing through the gut too quickly or slowly, stress, a family history of IBS and potentially oversensitive nerves in your gut.
If you are concerned that you may have IBS, call Ahmeys to book an appointment with one of our experts to discuss your symptoms and potential treatments. An expert at Ahmeys will review your symptoms and potentially recommend one of the following tests:
- A stool sample test (to check for internal bleeding and infection)
- A blood test to check for problems like coeliac disease
Once one of our experts has assessed you, they will discuss treatment options with you. Treatment may also depend on the results of any potential diagnostic tests. An Ahmeys expert may be able to diagnose you with IBS based on your symptoms, how often you experience them, when you have them (for example, after eating certain foods), and how long you have had symptoms. One of our experts at Ahmeys may also:
- Refer you to a hospital for further tests if they cannot determine whether the cause of your symptoms are IBS or another underlying medical condition
- Refer you to a dietician or specialist for further advice on diet and lifestyle changes as well as other treatments to try
- Prescribe you laxatives (like Fybogel) if you suffer from constipation
- Prescribe you medicines to help with cramps, bloating and farting (like Buscopan)
- Prescribe you medicines that can help reduce diarrhoea if you suffer from loose stools (like Loperamide)
How to manage your symptoms?
- Try to keep a food diary of what you eat and any symptoms you have after eating certain foods. Use this to identify and avoid potential trigger foods
- Try to relax and reduce stress
- Remain active and get plenty of exercise
- Try probiotics (live bacteria and yeasts in yoghurts and food supplements) for a month to see if they improve your symptoms
- Give yourself time to eat and avoid eating too quickly
- Avoid fatty, processed and spicy foods
How to manage diarrhoea symptoms?
- Limit your consumption of fresh fruit to three portions (80g each) a day
- Reduce your caffeine consumption and do not drink more than three cups of coffee or tea per day
- Reduce or avoid drinking alcohol and fizzy drinks
How to manage constipation symptoms?
- Avoid alcohol
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Increase the fibre in your diet (add some wheat bran, linseed or oats to your diet and try to eat at least 18-30g of fibre per day)
- Try walking or running daily
- A brisk (three miles per hour) ten-minute walk per day should help regulate your bowel movements and is beneficial for your overall health
- If you are not able to walk but can do other forms of non-weight bearing exercise, you could try swimming
- If your constipation is caused by pregnancy, keep up your daily physical activity for as long as you feel comfortable
- Give yourself a regular time, place and privacy to use the toilet
- Try not to ignore the urge to go to the toilet
- Try resting your feet on a low stool while using the toilet and if possible raise your knees above your hips
- If constipation is causing pain and discomfort, you may want to take either paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen. Children under 16 should not take aspirin
- If your medication could be causing constipation, talk to an expert at Ahmeys who may be able to suggest an alternate treatment
- Call Ahmeys to speak to an expert and discuss laxatives that can help, like Fybogel