Facts on Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

By: Joe Swails


What is IBS?
IBS is one of the most common gastrointestinal conditions. It is twice as common in women as it is in men.

Statistics show that IBS commonly affects people between the ages of 20 and 45, but children and people over 45 can also suffer from IBS. Gathering reliable statistics about IBS can be difficult, however, because many sufferers feel embarrassed about their condition and so fail to report their symptoms to their GP.

Symptoms
IBS symptoms include abdominal pain (sometimes crippling), a feeling of bloatedness, soreness, wind, diarrhoea and constipation. The severity of these symptoms can fluctuate – being much more troublesome at times than others. In fact, there may be periods when you experience no symptoms whatsoever.

Causes
There is normally no obvious cause. In fact, the exact cause of the condition is still unknown. It often begins during a period of emotional stress – during times of depression or anxiety, for example – with symptoms worsening in stressful situations.

From a physiological perspective, IBS can sometimes develop through exaggerated contractions of the muscles in the intestinal walls; after a gastrointestinal infection; through certain food intolerances; a lack of dietary fibre; and through eating meals at irregular intervals.

Diagnosis
There is no clear test to determine if you are suffering from this condition. However, your GP will look for signs of typical IBS symptoms and also ask you to undergo a physical examination.

Effect on your life
There is no known cure, so IBS is something that you need to come to accept and learn to live with. You may find that you have to use the toilet 4 or 5 times in the morning, due to the feeling of not quite emptying yourself each time you go. This, as well as abdominal pains and the need to regularly use the toilet through the rest of the day, can have an adverse effect on your work, social and family life.

Treatments
Once you have been examined by your GP, the best approach to coping with the condition is to manage the symptoms as best you can.

Try to avoid stress, take regular exercise, maintain a diet where wheat products, fat-rich foods (such as dairy foods) and red meat are avoided (to aid digestion), and which includes plenty of liquids, fruit, and soluble fibre foods which all help to prevent constipation.

Some anti-spasmodic drugs may help to relieve the pain of IBS, as they slow the contractions in the bowel. Antidepressants are also known to be effective when it comes to reducing pain (and also diarrhoea).

How Chemist Online can help
We can recommend Buscopan IBS Relief Tablets – an antispasmodic medication which can relieve painful bowel cramps and spasms in medically confirmed IBS.

www.chemistonline.co.uk

Advice & Support
Core
Tel: 020 7486 0341
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.corecharity.org.uk

The Gut Trust
Helpline: 0114 272 3253
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: www.theguttrust.org

This information and advice is not intended to replace the advice of your GP or chemist. Chemist Online is also not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based upon the content of the Chemist Online website. Chemist Online is also not liable for the contents of any external internet sites listed, nor does it endorse any commercial product or service mentioned or advised on any of the sites.

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