In April, we take a closer look at a condition that affects one in five Australians. Irritable Bowel Syndrome can manifest with various symptoms. IBS is concentrated mainly in the colon and the bowel and although it may not damage the bowel, the symptoms can be unpleasant. The symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain
How is IBS Diagnosed?
IBS is often mistaken for Inflammatory Bowel Disease which includes conditions such as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. People diagnosed with IBS often have sensitive bowels and can therefore be more prone to the symptoms listed above. This occurs more frequently in females and can often be worse just before a period starts.
Although the exact cause of IBS is not known, it is recommended that you start to notice any foods that may bring on abdominal or stomach discomfort. Including foods that have high fibre content can assist in decreasing the incidence of constipation. Limiting the amount of alcohol consumption may provide relief as well as drinking 8 glasses of water per day. Introducing gentle exercise especially if your lifestyle is more sedentary is recommended as this can alleviate the frequency of constipation.
Some medications (anti biotics) may trigger IBS symptoms as well as they may react with the stomach causing diarrhoea. Stress levels can make some symptoms worse as well, so exercise and stress management are recommended lifestyle changes to make.
Although there is no cure, discussing a tailored treatment plan with your doctor and dietician can give you a strong chance in managing symptoms with or without medications. You may find that you only need codeine based medications if you are managing stronger levels of pain. Tricyclic anti-depressants could be of benefit but will need to be trialled and closely monitored as well.
Although discomfort in our bowels and stomachs may occur for different reasons, always check with a GP, a dietician and even a nutritionist for a more thorough round of assessment of your diet and testing, via blood tests to start with.