10 things your doctor wants you to know about IBS

If you didn’t already know, IBS is most common in twentysomething women and can induce symptoms like constipation, diarrhoea, stomach cramps and bloating – but it’s quite hard to diagnose.

Here, Dr Ana Wilson, a Consultant Gastroenterologist at St Mark’s Institute for Bowel Disease, explains 10 things you need to know about IBS, it’s symptoms and what you can do to make it easier to handle.

1. It’s also known as a ‘functional gut disorder’

Irritable Bowel Syndrome what we call a functional gut disorder. It’s a combination of symptoms that comes from a change in your bowel habits – you can have constipation dominant, diarrhoea dominant or abdominal pain dominant IBS. It’s a bit of a diagnosis of exclusion because there is no specific sign that clarifies if the symptoms are definitely IBS, although there are criteria that people fulfil. The pain is often relieved with bowel movements.

2. There is no real cause, but it’s linked to stress

We don’t really know why people the different particular types. There’s a close relationship between your gut and brain -it’s called the gut brain axis.Getting butterflies when your nervous is evidence of how close your brain and gut are. We know people who are hard achievers and people who are worriers are more likelier to get IBS. There is correlation – if you are an anxious person, you are more likely to get IBS – but to which type you get, there isn’t.

3. There’s no surefire way to avoid it

It’s incredibly prevalent. About 50% who come to our clinic complaining of bowel pain will have IBS. We know that stress makes it worse and stress brings it on. You can’t change your personality, but we do encourage meditation and a lifestyle that keeps you calmer. Once you have IBS, if you alter your diet, you can make your symptoms better.

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