Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) - Treatment 

Treating IBS 

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Media last reviewed: 16/06/2014

Next review due: 16/06/2016

Access to public toilets

Being able to easily access public toilets is important if you have sudden, urgent bouts of diarrhoea. Two schemes that can help are:

The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can often be managed by changing your diet and lifestyle, and understanding the nature of the condition.

In some cases, medication or psychological treatments may also be helpful.

IBS-friendly diet

Changing your diet will play an important part in controlling your symptoms of IBS. However, there is no "one size fits all" diet for people with the condition. The diet that works best for you will depend on your symptoms and how you react to different foods.

It may be helpful to keep a food diary and record whether certain foods make your symptoms better or worse. You can then avoid foods that trigger your symptoms. However, it's important to remember that these foods will not necessarily need to be avoided for life.


People with IBS are often advised to modify the amount of fibre in their diet. There are two main types of fibre: soluble fibre (which the body can digest) and insoluble fibre (which the body cannot digest).

Foods that contain soluble fibre include:

  • oats
  • barley
  • rye
  • fruit – such as bananas and apples
  • root vegetables – such as carrots and potatoes
  • golden linseeds

Foods that contain insoluble fibre include:

  • wholegrain bread
  • bran
  • cereals
  • nuts and seeds (except golden linseeds)

If you have diarrhoea, you may find it helps to cut down on the insoluble fibre you eat. It may also help to avoid the skin, pith and pips from fruit and vegetables.

If you have constipation, increasing the amount of soluble fibre in your diet and the amount of water you drink can help.

Your GP may be able to advise on what your recommended fibre intake should be.

Low FODMAP diet

If you experience persistent or frequent bloating, a special diet called the low FODMAP diet can be effective.

FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These are types of carbohydrates that aren’t easily broken down and absorbed by the gut. This means they start to ferment in the gut relatively quickly, and the gases released during this process can lead to bloating.

A low FODMAP diet essentially involves restricting your intake of various foods that are high in FODMAPs, such as some fruits and vegetables, animal milk, wheat products and beans.

If you want to try the low FODMAP diet, it’s best to do so under the guidance of a professional dietitian, who can ensure your diet is still healthy and balanced. You can ask your GP or specialist to refer you.

You can read more about the low FODMAP diet on the Kings College London website.

General eating tips

Your IBS symptoms may also improve by:

  • having regular meals and taking your time when eating
  • not missing meals or leaving long gaps between eating
  • drinking at least eight cups of fluid a day – particularly water and other non-caffeinated drinks, such as herbal tea
  • restricting your tea and coffee intake to a maximum of three cups a day
  • reducing the amount of alcohol and fizzy drinks you drink
  • reducing your intake of resistant starch (starch that resists digestion in the small intestine and reaches the large intestine intact), which is often found in processed or re-cooked foods
  • limiting fresh fruit to three portions a day a suitable portion would be half a grapefruit or an apple
  • if you have diarrhoea, avoiding sorbitol, an artificial sweetener found in sugar-free sweets, including chewing gum and drinks, and in some diabetic and slimming products
  • if you have wind (flatulence) and bloating, it may help to eat oats (such as oat-based breakfast cereal or porridge) and linseeds (up to one tablespoon a day)


Many people find that exercise helps to relieve the symptoms of IBS. Your GP can advise you on the type of exercise that is suitable for you.

Aim to do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.

The exercise should be strenuous enough to increase your heart and breathing rates.

Read more about health and fitness and physical activity guidelines for adults.

Reducing stress

Reducing your stress levels may also reduce the frequency and severity of your IBS symptoms. Some ways to help relieve stress include:

If you are particularly stressed, you may benefit from a talking therapy, such as stress counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Read more about how to manage stress.


Probiotics are dietary supplements that product manufacturers claim can help improve digestive health. They contain so-called "friendly bacteria" that can supposedly restore the natural balance of your gut bacteria when it has been disrupted.

Some people find taking probiotics regularly helps to relieve the symptoms of IBS. However, there is a little evidence to support this, and it is unclear exactly how much of a benefit probiotics offer and which types are most effective.

If you want to try a probiotic product, you should take it for at least four weeks to see if your symptoms improve, and you should follow the manufacturer's recommendations regarding dosage.


A number of different medications can be used to help treat IBS, including:

  • antispasmodics – which help reduce abdominal (stomach) pain and cramping
  • laxatives – which can help relieve constipation
  • antimotility medicines – which can help relieve diarrhoea
  • low-dose antidepressants – which were originally designed to treat depression, but can also help reduce stomach pain and cramping independent of any antidepressant effect

These medications are discussed in more detail below. 


Antispasmodics work by helping to relax the muscles in your digestive system. Examples of antispasmodic medicines include mebeverine and therapeutic peppermint oil.

Side effects associated with antispasmodics are rare. However, people taking peppermint oil may have occasional heartburn and irritation on the skin around their bottom.


Bulk-forming laxatives are usually recommended for people with IBS-related constipation. They make your stools softer, which means they are easier to pass.

It's important to drink plenty of fluids while using a bulk-forming laxative. This will help prevent the laxative from causing an obstruction in your digestive system.

Start on a low dose and then, if necessary, increase it every few days until one or two soft stools are produced every one or two days. Do not take a bulk-forming laxative just before you go to bed.

Side effects associated with taking laxatives can include bloating and wind. However, if you increase your dose gradually, you should have few, if any, side effects.

Antimotility medicines

The antimotility medicine loperamide is usually recommended for IBS-related diarrhoea.

Loperamide works by slowing contractions of muscles in the bowel, which slows down the speed at which food passes through your digestive system. This allows more time for your stools to harden and solidify.

Side effects of loperamide can include stomach cramps and bloating, dizziness, drowsiness and rashes.


Two types of antidepressants are used to treat IBS tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

TCAs, such as amitriptyline, are usually recommended when antispasmodic medicines have not been able to control the symptoms of pain and cramping. They work by preventing signals being sent to and from the nerves in your digestive system.

However, TCAs will only start to provide relief after three to four weeks, as your body gets used to the medication.

Side effects of TCAs can include a dry mouth, constipation, blurred vision and drowsiness. These side effects should improve within a few days of starting the medication. Tell your GP if the side effects become a problem  they may prescribe another type of antidepressant.

SSRIs are an alternative type of antidepressant. Examples of SSRIs that are used to treat IBS include citalopram, fluoxetine and paroxetine.

Common side effects of SSRIs include blurred vision, dizziness and diarrhoea or constipation.

Psychological treatments

If your IBS symptoms are still causing problems after 12 months of treatment, your GP may refer you for a type of therapy known as a psychological intervention.

There are several different types of psychological therapy. They all involve teaching you techniques to help you control your condition better, and there is good evidence to suggest they may help some people with IBS.

Psychological treatments that may be offered to people with IBS include:

  • psychotherapy  a type of therapy that involves talking to a trained therapist to help you to look deeper into your problems and worries
  • cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)  a type of psychotherapy that involves examining how beliefs and thoughts are linked to behaviour and feelings, and teaches ways to alter your behaviour and way of thinking to help you cope with your situation
  • hypnotherapy  where hypnosis is used to change your unconscious mind's attitude towards your symptoms

The availability of psychological interventions on the NHS may vary from region to region.

Complementary therapies

Some people claim therapies such as acupuncture and reflexology can help people with IBS. However, there is no medical evidence to suggest their effectiveness, and they are not recommended.

Page last reviewed: 25/09/2014

Next review due: 25/09/2016


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The 40 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

purplemonkeydishwasher said on 18 September 2014

When I'm on my period I get constipation followed by diarrhea, nausea and vomiting! I'm usually up at night for those whole 5 days. Does anyone know if going on the pill will fix this?

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Hanbob96 said on 02 April 2014

I first experienced IBS during the Christmas period of 2012- 3 weks of constipation. I put it down to the inevitable few days of over-eating rich food that comes around every Christmas. But even now I still haven't been without IBS- looks like it's here to stay. Did anybody start with IBS following Christmas? Christmas is dangerous to the stomach xD

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jaydeeh said on 23 March 2014

I have had IBS since I can remember and I am now in my late fifties that is a very long time. Of course when I was child IBS wasn't known about and I just had a letter for my teachers allowing me to go to the toilet during class if I needed to go. However after years of pain and almost spoilt holidays I was in a country where milk was not readily available and I had no problems until I got home and had my usual cereals with milk and I was bad. I have lactose intolerance and managed it then with diet and was able to control it much better, but now I'm bad again and seems worse than I remember so wonder what is triggering it now. I did go to reflexology when I found out it was IBS and it helped enormously but I gave this up 2 years ago. I take Mebrevine and this helps a lot. It can swing between constipation but usually diarrhoea and when in severe pain find deep breathing can help, but I think that is more due to trying to keep my mind off the pain!
It may not be so helpful but it is good therapy for me to just speak about it, a cure would be so brilliant. I'm sure many do not realise how painful this condition is and even after all these years I can get very anxious about it and remember how as a child crying in pain, I still do sometimes!

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Melly13 said on 15 March 2014

I have had IBS-D for over a year now (I am now 18) and have to say it has completely changed my life. When people discover I have IBS they think it's nothing serious, just that if I drink too much coffee I have a funny stomach. But then I remember only those who have it or something similar understand how severe it can be.
After a cocktail of citalopram, loperamide, codeine and mebeverine I had a period of about six months where i was in control and had minimal impact on daily life.
Then relapsed summer last year and started a five month course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which successfully dealt with deep rooted anxiety and OCD which was adding fuel to the fire and causing stress.
I would love to say that I am now 'cured' but having to come to terms with the fact that this is for life is a difficult process. I am in the middle of a really bad flare up right now i.e for the past three weeks I have had diarrhoea everyday no matter what I eat or where I am.
I have lost a lot of my pride and dignity and feel I am missing out being only 18 and feeling exhausted at work and uni when I haven't even been out the night before.
Despite feeling completely alone and at rock bottom I know I'm not and life could be a lt worse and it does feel good to see that it's not just in my head and that I do actually have a recognised medical condition not just a 'nervous stomach'.

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gogey said on 04 March 2014

I agree with everyone that IBS is a dehabilitating condition and it is very different for everyone. I have to say I found a great deal of comfort after discovering these pages, maybe we should have IBS GROUPS which may be a lot of help to sufferers. I believe in finding root causes and believe it exists within our psyche. So I did some digging and the root cause of IBS is related to holding on (constipation) to our feelings, repressing emotions, which make their way out physically (Diarrhoea). Keeping too much in, not expressing ourselves until our bodies need to let it out somehow and that is how. Sometimes it is repressed memories other times it is fear of expressing our feelings, we either feel we can't or are not entitled to.
The other thing with IBS is that it is taboo and a great deal of shame attached to it.

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xxxyyy said on 25 September 2013

I find that IBS affects my sexual confidence and spontaneity. The details are embarrassing to share, but basically since I often have diarrhoea then I also need more frequent showers and it isn't always possible to jump straight in the shower afterwards. I hardly ever feel ok about having sex unless I've just had a shower. Plus I find I often can't completely empty my bowel, during a movement, and stool is stuck in the back passage. For me this is the worst thing about the illness.
I go between diarrhoea (most usual) and constipation, so hard to know whether Immodium will help me, or just make me too constipated. I might try Mebverine, though, after reading these posts.

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hyounus said on 26 August 2013

I've come to realise that my IBS is sparked by stress mainly. As apart from summer time I generally have regular stools but during summer (exams) I have continuous diarrhea. The situation is slightly remedied by loperamide, but it's sad being on regular medication. I also have the stupid problem of having to go to the toilet 5 minutes after a meal- a nightmare when your our, but I normally manage until I get... But even then it's a race to get in and upstairs into the toilet!

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Hkelly1992 said on 07 August 2013

I was diagnosed when I was 20, after being tested for everything else. I thought maybe they just said it was IBS as they couldn't find any other cause. Looking at everyone else's comments on here though, I am amazed how many people have exactly the same symptoms as me. I couldn't even go out for a meal or clubbing with friends as it was so embarrassing to have to use the toilets. My mum used to say to stop being silly and use public toilets if needed.... a typical response from someone that doesn't suffer with it.
I have tried everything I can think of to treat mine. It is not even food related as I can eat things one day and the next they set it off. Some days its set off with a sip of water. I have tried eating imodium like sweets, sometimes as many as 12 a day but normally around 6-8. Even they have stopped working now though, so I just have to hope and pray that I will be ok. I was on a mild antidepressant for a short time and this did seem to help a little. It didn't stop altogether but it was less frequent.
The only advice I can give is to get a RADAR key from the disability uk website. It is a key for all the disabled toilets out there that have a RADAR locking scheme. It cost me 4 pounds but is the best 4 pounds I have ever spent.
I hate using public toilets but at least the disabled ones are a little more private, and with this key I don't have the embarrassment of having to ask someone for the key. Without this I would be a hermit, too scared to leave my house.

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KSheridan said on 01 August 2013

Like most people I have had a lot of tests over the past couple of years, all of which have come back 'normal' and I have been given the diagnosis of IBS-D.

I have tried nearly every medication, but have only found results from Dicycloverine hydrochloride and Lopermaide. I've just started the FODMAP diet in the hope I can find a natural way to reduce symptoms and my reliance on medication.

IBS is such a minefield as symptoms seem to be quite different in individuals, and finding the right 'treatment' seems to be trial and error. I just hope that I find a way to reduce my symptoms so they dont affect me on a daily basis, for the rest of my life.

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JJ Philips said on 11 June 2013

I've suffered with IBS symptoms since I was 13. I'm now 22. Initially I started with constipation but that gradually changed to loose stools. I get cramping and bloating and just recently, nausea too. My GP has tried various medications and I have tried altering my diet. Now I'm taking Amitriptyline once a day. Haven't noticed an improvement yet, but I only commenced them yesterday. I also insisted on a referral to an outpatient GI (Gastro-intestinal) medical clinic to rule out anything else. I would say if you feel your symptoms are changing regularly and if you have any sudden weight loss you MUST insist on a specialist referral. It may all prove unnecessary, however it's better to have checked it out. Most of the people I know that have IBS also have high levels of stress in their lives. It would be wise also to say that in this instance, learning stress management techniques will help your symptoms too.

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VALDERRE said on 30 May 2013

Firstly, what a great site this is, with so much information.

I have always suffered with what my Mum used to call a nervous stomach. Even if we were just going out for the day they couldn't tell me in advance as it would give me a stomach upset. I can remember losing quite a few days off work with stomach ache and my Mum sending for the Dr. who could never find anything the matter. The slightest worry or upset gives me diarrhea. In my 20's I was told by the Dr that I had the beginning of a stomach ulcer and was given the white medicine to take with meals, and as long as I stuck to the diet I was given I was fine, but if I had a steak for instance I would be literally doubled up in pain and unable to straighten up.

I went through a divorce and then my Mum had cancer and at the same time my Dad had a stroke so was visiting the hospital every day. After my Mum died I had a bit of a breakdown. I then had clinical depression in my 40's and saw a hypnotherapist which did seem to help.

Usually if I have had something that hasn't agreed with me I have really bad stomach cramps a very short time after eating it and then really bad diahhrea, but as soon as I have got rid of whater it was that has upset me I am perfectly fine again. But like a lot of you have said it really spoils the enjoyement of going out for a meal because you never know when it is going to strike. Sometimes I can be constipated and then others I can go 3 times in the space of an hour.

Reading through the symptoms it really does sound like I have IBS so am planning on trying some Buscopan and see if that helps.

I don't smoke or drink and stopped eating all meat about 25 years ago.

I think my recent bout may have started because I went to the Doctors with something else and he sent me for blood tests, then another one a few weeks later and then another one. He now wants me to see a Consultant, so obviously that it a bit of a worry.

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Kook said on 08 May 2013

I have suffered since childhood (now in my 50's) reading the posts I can agree - although not life threatening it is certainly life changing. Simethicone really helps my pains. You can buy this over the counter in a gel tablet form [Windeze] Imodium is my constant companion. More that anything the fear of knowing how socially unacceptable/embarassing/uncomfortable an attack is means that my daily life revolves around coping strategies. IBS hurts. It hurts physically and mentally.

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Gutted said on 23 April 2013

I've found it very helpful to read everyones comments. I believe I have IBS based on all I have read here and must tackle it as it is really bad at the moment - having been triggered by severe acid reflux. I have suffered with IBS symptoms since my 20s. I am now 53! Why have I put up with it. I would be interested to know more about the personalities of IBS sufferers. You may be like me: polite, well brought up, don't like to make a fuss, a bit up tight about bodily functions such as gurgling stomach, farting etc. Too polite to ask for a snack when visiting people and getting very hungry. Interesting also how IBS so often starts in 20s & 30s. Just the time when we have to go out into the world, socialise more & probably eat things and at times which don't suit us. It is often just not practical or seen as polite to make personal demands about eating and so the anxiety begins and the stomach is clenched. If I am are going out for dinner, and it can be just with my husband, it will be early evening & I'm getting ready and I can feel my stomach tensing. So for me IBS is rooted in a psycological problem that creates a physical problem. I don't believe I have food allergies but do need to eat healthy foods little and often. I think the key is relaxation and trying above all to live normally.

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Xhris said on 22 April 2013

IBS is a completely unknown source of illness and to those that have it, it is very debilitating. No "one glove fits all" lifestyle treatment is suitable.
SYMPTOMS: Tummy ache, burning feeling in stomach, stomach cramps, nausea and anxiety with onset - passing wind reduces cramps. Diarrhea and passing of stools eases/stopscramps. Bloating of abdomen. Tiredness/no energy. ALL symptoms of IBS.
Meberevine Hydrochloride 135mg (colofac )is a very effective treatment. 1 tab 20 mins before meals is all that is required and when symptoms ease you can take a maintenence dose of 1tab before your first meal of the day.
If you eat fairly healthily, you will find food triggers are very inconsistent symptoms, as one day foods that are fine seemingly trigger it another. Sometimes just a cup of water can trigger it if your in a bout.
Mine started after food poisoning. Stress does not help but stress didnt trigger it before that. Quite frankly the NHS arent really bothered by your symptoms and Dr`s have far greater issues to deal with so youre on your own. I`ve lost 3 stone in 13 years and got weak and thin.
In most cases, eat small meals, try for 2/3 a day. You can eat more food in 3 sittings than 2 big meals. Over eating can trigger a reaction in the bowel. Avoid gassy and acidic foods. Maltdrextrin etc cause gas. Eat slowly and make food as soluable as possible, or use a blender. Finely ground oats are ideal, with water if milk sensitive. Probiotics didnt help me. Not eating helped me! NAC 600mg and Aloe Vera juice seems to reduce stomach inflamation & reduce further bouts. Dont sit after meals...walk, around upright but avoid strenuous activity like running or bending/ Stand up, walk around, it aids digestion. COOK your own food, avoid pre made pre cooked foods with additives/fats. Avoid carbonated drinks. Drink green tea! Deep beathing techniques help too.
You have to figure out your own plan tho, sorry.

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Platamon1980 said on 06 February 2013

Fairly young, now in my early 30's, very active, eating properly and recently diagnosed with ibs/c. I guess its the most frustrating when you do possibly everything you can to keep well and one day despite all the efforts put in you are told you are not. Am approaching an end of my 100 colofac pills treatment and realised recently it didn't help. Next step will be a diet change I guess but also asking my gp for some more complex tests rather than just blood. I have no idea what food triggers my pains and I would do almost anything to get rid of this and go back in time by one year to again live stress, pain free life.

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ell93 said on 24 November 2012

Yesterday I was officially diagnosed with IBS. I actually suspected that I had the condition after looking on this website when a family friend in the medical profession recognised the symptoms in me. Recently things have taken a turn for the worst and I was terrified of going out on my bad days in case there was no toilets around. Now the diagnoses has been made things make sense - after speaking to the doctor it became clear the condition has been there for many years and has only just become more persistent and uncomfortable now. I'm 19 and a university student so I hope this IBS won't get in the way of my studies and future job. I have been put on Mebeverine to help the stomach cramps and I have to go back to see my doctor in the new year!
I already have acid reflux so I have no luck at all with my stomach. Due to the acid reflux I have learned how to control my diet and this has helped the stomach. I also know what triggers my IBS though so I have to be really careful.
I don't really know how I feel about having IBS. Its not a thing anybody wants because it can be so problematic. I also haven't told many people I have it because I find talking about my bowel movements really embarrassing. Things haven't really sunken it yet but I guess I should be glad that IBS isn't a life threatening condition and isn't going to cause any further damage.
Seeing support on here is really nice. It's lovely knowing other suffers are willing to talk and help people xx

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loopylooroll said on 02 November 2012

Its been 2 going on 3 years since my Dr said I had IBS/C. I did go gluten free for 2 years just to see if it helped, yes and no.
Since I was a small child I'v had problems, over 40 years. Its a club we would like to leave but I find it a great help to read I'm not alone. I can joke about it, knowing all the loo's in the south west or I could power my home with my own wind. I try to only sit and cry after 7 hours of diarrhea. I can't eat the things I love, food hates me back and finding that balance between the right combination of dry food, wet food like soup/strew, veg, fruit, salt, sugar and every meal is a mindfield. I'v cut sugar down a lot and its helped a bit. I cant eat tomatoes but can eat red onions. I use the same small bowl for all my meals and try to go no longer then 4 hours between meals. No cans, I was ok with tins of rice pudding but now I cook everything, even rice pudding with maple syrup to sweeten. Golden rule - small amounts then small problems.

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Locker165 said on 16 October 2012

Jane1234 I'm afraid your eyesight must have been affected by your IBS! There is a section on probiotics in the treatment section.

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Jane1234 said on 02 October 2012

Probiotics have been shown to drastically improve ibs symptoms- amazing they are not mentioned here. This is because they address the cause of ibs (please read up on leaky gut syndrome for more info). The causes of ibs include contraceptive pills, antibiotics, NSAIDs. Personally I can trace my ibs having started after taking contraceptive pills around 20 years ago. I only wish I had understood this and taken probiotics years ago. I hope this helps others.

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Equilibria said on 06 September 2012

Hazel, PS to my last comment - obviousy I'm not saying you have gallstones - I'm not medically qualified. There may well be other conditions that make you feel similarly - I'm simply saying that what you describe sounds very similar to what I felt.

I hope your Doctor will discuss this with you with an open mind - if not, is there another Doctor at your practice you could see?

Good luck.

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Equilibria said on 06 September 2012

In response to Hazel260UK...

Hazel, is the pain in the centre or more to the right? The pain you describe sounds similar to when I had gallstones. The gallbladder is located directly beneath the liver (on the right - your right, just below the ribcage). I had gallstones 13 years ago - and it felt similar to the 'stitch' type pain you described. Sometimes it was just on the right, but other times it felt as though it was right across the middle.

I'm not a big fan of operations, but they did minor key-hole surgery in 1999 and removed my gallbladder, and I haven't had any problems since.

Obviously you will need to discuss this with your Doctor.

Hope this helps.

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loveablerogues said on 05 September 2012

so today i basically went to the hospital to see a consultant about this problem i've had going on for about 2 years now, i had scans and blood test repeatedly and they was all okay, i also was going to the doctors alot, but they wasn't telling me what it was, keeping in mind i'm only 15 and its horrible for an adult to have it let alone a teenager. anyways after years of being told its kidney stones, appendix and stuff the doctor finally told me it was IBS, he told me there was no cure for IBS and the only way you could prevent cramp pains and discomfort is by being careful of what you eat and also try a new diet, or if your overweight like myself try and lose a little bit of weight to stop getting the discomfort like you do. i thought i would just give my opinion on it and help you out a little.

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Hazel260uk said on 29 August 2012

I've had IBS for 10 years on and off but I have been suffering from symptoms every day for 4 months now. First it was the bloating and constipation as usual and now that's all clear, I have pain in my higher abdomen underneath my ribs. I feels almost like a stitch or as if someone is sitting on my stomach. My doctor thinks it's still linked to IBS and wouldn't do any tests. I'm worried this time is something else.... Has anyone felt something similar?

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Isis_1986 said on 12 June 2012

I have had stomach/bowel issues for as long as i can remember. I remember being taken to the doctors as a child because felt sick every evening, he told my mum to give me a biscuit before i went to bed. A few years later i completely lost my appetite and was perscribed medicine to try to get it back. I remember playing outside with my friends & having to run back and forth in to the house to go to the loo. I think during my early teens, symptoms subsided slightly, i don't remember suffering much but it all started again when i went to uni. It starts with pain in my right side then massive bloating to i look pregnant, then days of diarrhea that caused my bottom to crack & bleed. This would happen about once a week, i could only stop it by blocking up with anti-diarrhea medication. I don't think the medical profession took seriously the effect this had on a young womans life. I became virtually agoraphobic, not wanting to leave the house incase i got cut short, or only going out if i knew i was in a minutes distance of a loo and making sure i had loo paper and anti-diarrhea drungs on me at all times. The embarassment is awful, having to explain to people why you might suddenly have to dash off. I pretty sure my IBS was a major contribution to my depression/panic attacks, i felt sick all the time and it ruined my relationship for several years as sex is the last thing you want to think about. During the past year i feel i have turned a corner. I was perscribed amitriptyline (25mg) which did help, especially at night, it slows my digestion system down and gives food a chance to be digested properly. I did however still suffer from putrid gas so on the advice of a friend i started taking a probiotic tablet, it helps alot. I also found that people tell you that you just need to 'eat more fruit and veg' Raw fruit & veg make my ibs worse!! tomato especially. I feel i'm getting my life back now its just a case of finding what what works for you.

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joniblue said on 28 May 2012

I have found some of the comments on here very helpful and interesting. I was diagnosed with IBS and diverticular disease 2 years ago when in hospital with severe symptoms. I am having a flare up and have been off sick over 2 months, getting severe pain, bloating etc and have also lost a lot of weight. I agree the medical profession does not take this disease seriously - my consultant said I should be grateful I didnt have cancer. That doesnt help when you are worried about losing your job and struggling to cope with the symptoms. Like one of the ladies above I tried antidepressants. They made me very nauseous so I stopped taking them but I think I will give them another try. I also agree advice on specifics like diet etc are confusing - I have tried all kinds of diets to no avail. Good luck to everyone above!

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David Pollard said on 23 May 2012

Both turmeric and n-acetyl cysteine have helped me deal with IBS and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Turmeric and ground black pepper are the basis of Teh Halia - mentioned by James Wong in the BBC series 'Grow Your Own Drugs'. These are anti-inflammatory and anti--bacterial. I tried acetyl cysteine to help with COPD, from which I also suffer, and it seems to have greatly reduced the irritable bowel symptoms. It's mucolytic as well as anti-inflammatory. Check on Google Scholar for research papers and ask your GP too. I persuaded mine to prescribe acetylcysteine.

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Cassie Molloy said on 13 May 2012

I was constantly on laxative medications (averaging 4 movicol a day) over a 3 year period for my constipation predominant IBS. I already was suffering from low mood and the symptoms of IBS made this worse. On a lot of the weekends I was stuck inside having picolax and had very bad cramping. However, just over a year ago I finally went to the doctor and got treated for depression with fluoxetine (prozac), within 3 months I was completely off laxative medication and haven't had to take it since. The abdominal cramping has also ceased. :)

Throughout my time suffering with IBS, the main focus of the doctors seemed to be improving my diet by eating more veg and fibre, drinking more and doing more exercise (ouch). Some also tried to suggest I had a toilet phobia or something which definitely wasn't true! The pain from eating and perceived criticism of diet (I was pretty sensitive) were part of the factors leading to loosing a lot of weight (down to 6 stone) which in turn meant I stopped having periods for 19 months.

I sympathise with everyone here suffering with IBS because it can be emotionally very exhausting and difficult to explain to people due to the stigma. Some doctors also seem not to take the disorder seriously as it doesn't have any harmful physical long term effects.
To anyone suffering from IBS and also stress/anxiety/depression I encourage you to focus on this as I think that the gut and brain can often relate very closely to one another....well in my case anyway.

Good luck everyone!

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pepe2 said on 16 April 2012

I suffer with IBS and struggled with it for a long time untill I consulted a doctor of Chinese Traditional medicine and was prescribed a treatment . This medication settled the problems , although I am not cured , and get the occassional repeat of symptoms which can quickly be settled using conventional medications , something that did not happen before I had the course of "chinese medicine " I strongly reccomend anybody struggling to control their symptons with convential medication to do as I did !

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vi12 said on 14 April 2012

I was diagnosed with IBS last year. I had the nova virus 4 years ago and have been ill since then. IBS is basically dianosed when the doctors can't find anything else wrong with you! There are many symptoms and treatments but you just have to find out what your body is intollerent to. I can't eat a lot of dairy, I try to have some, like milk in my tea, but yoghurts are an absolute no no for me. My cousin has chrohns disease and many of my family members have IBS they say it doesn't run in familys but in our case it looks like it does! Excessive excersize can make me worse, and now I have had a constant headache since christmas, I take that many pills I am sure I rattle when I walk! It's exhausting and some days I feel like and eighty year old ( I'm 28). I shake severely if I don't eat properly but most of the time I'm to frightened to eat. I am very lucky that I only work short hours but am terrified of going back full time as this is such an embarrasing illness and most people don't realise how lethargic it makes you feel. I won't get into a relationship not that I dare go out anyway, if I do I am usually dosed up with immodium and mebeverine! But they only last a few hours so it's never a late night! I can quite honestly say although this illness is not life threatening it has done a pretty good job of destroying mine! Don't get me wrong I do have good weeks, but at the moment there seems to be more bad.

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alison777alison said on 11 April 2012

I have been unable to control my bowel movements for 3 years. It started one day when I got on the train to work, and I felt my stomach rumbling. I got off the train at the next stop and started to walk home. Half way home, I couldn't help myself and ending up pooing myself (diarrhoea). I thought it was something that I'd eaten the previous day/night, and phoned in sick to work. The following week, the same thing happened, but I couldn't get off the train, as we were between stations. Luckily enough, the train was quite empty. I was extremely embarrassed and got off the train and got someone to pick me up. This then happened nearly every day for about a month, so much so that I started driving to work, and taking 2 Imodium every morning (and taking clean clothes and wipes in my car). I did not have any diarrhoea episodes, but the thought of public transport was too stressful, just the thought of it made my stomach twist! I made a doctor's appointment, and he sent me for tests (Coeliac, Chrohns and cancer, which were all clear, thank God), and I was finally diagnosed with IBS. I learnt to control my 'episodes', and if I was going somewhere where there was not a toilet, I made sure that I sat on the loo at home until I 'go', and I took an Imodium. About 6 weeks ago, I made an appointment with my new doctor, and explained my symptoms. He recommended Amitriptyline. He said that this can calm down the signals sent from the brain to the bowel, as I think myself that I was just scared incase I had an accident, and this was making my stomach go funny, not the need to actually go to the loo. I am delighted to say that for 5 weeks I have not had any 'episodes'. Whether this is due to these tablets, or because I know that I am taking them, but either way they seem to be working! I am much more relaxed in myself, although I do still take an Imodium if I know that I am going on a long journey without access to a loo! I hope this helps xx

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pizzaexpress123 said on 19 January 2012

i was diagnosed with i.b.s and chronic fatigue mid last year.
it started with pains in the high right side of my abdominal area and the stomach.
it was early 09 after a massive binge fest of two months of constant alcohol.

i was vomiting and had diarrhoea for the first five days( assuming my bodys clearin the toxins) so the doctors said it was infalmmation of the stomach lining and liver.
after 1 course of anti inflammatries they took me in to get an ultrasound and it was clear.

the pains where getting worse and iwas nauses quiet alot of thye time(times i was vomiting)
so then i was told it was i.b.s at my local surgery.
urine, bloods and stool where all checked and all cleared.
one thing came up...helicobactor.
i was givin antbiotics for it.
then back on i.b.s medicines

after a few months of medication for i.b.s more symptoms appeared,(non- side affects) headaches, nosebleeds( apperas to be worse than ever, nosebleeds during sleeping), urinating alot more( 12-16 times day), sleeping more than usaul(sometimes cannot be woke, like an unconsious sleep),pins and needles, nail tips going whiter and cracking, shoulder pains(like scrapping), tightness of chest, shooting pains in arm and exhausting/drained of all energy.

exercise makes it worse and i am tired very easily( try to run up stairs rather than walk to keep my stamia but im knackered by the time a get to the top) and i dont suffer from stress
(although this doesnt help lol)

if this is i.b.s(which i am unsure of but takin meds anyway) what else can i do or take to help relieve this pain?

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Sugar90 said on 02 January 2012

Hi, Looking at the comments i thought i would share mine also.
At the age of 14 i lost 3 stone in 4 months, Was constantly on the toilet and if i wasnt on the toilet i was in my room curled up as my belly just felt terrible. At that age - you have no idea and to be honest my doctor had no clue.He ran as many tests as he could - then the words chrones dieseas was mentioned. My cousin has it so my mother was in pieces before we even got the news. I was lucky i hadnt got that i had IBS. Who would of known that 7 years later it would still be affecting my life. I have been through so many different medications etc.
My only advise is to keep trying, like it says its your body and its unique to you.
Its not easy i spent months not eating anything with lactose - wheat etc and i would still have episodes. Having IBS as a teenager was difficult and still is while your friends are going out you really dont have the energy or when you do go out you look for the nearest toilet - just incase.
My IBS is related to stress also - i tend to loose a half a stone now and then - which just isnt healthy.
One thing i have to say is for me Yoga and some form of exercise helps me. Whether its me doing yoga or playing just dance for a hour.
I still have a long way to go but hopefully with enough food diaries and elemination of foods i will get there.

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Jessie Jane said on 20 December 2011

i have ibs and remember having the symptoms of pains, anxiety, and cramps, diarrhea etc since i was 5, and when I was 16 it got so bad that I was in constant agony with my stomach and i had major panic attacks every day because the pain was so bad. I couldnt see friends at all and felt like an old person because my body felt horrible. I eliminated most foods and unfortunately just got really thin and scared of eating - so eventually i forced myself to start eating again. After gradually introducing a healthy balanced diet and making various changes, I have stopped being ill at all - i feel really healthy all the time and although i might have violent diarrhea once every few weeks, the rest of the time I feel fine and am able to do all the social things that I want to that I never could before.
The things that have really helped me are: having 8 drinks of water a day, having plenty of calcium, but mainly having lactose free milk which I feel i can digest without getting any pains etc, i take amitriptiline (antidepressents) - a small dose every night and it means I'm not getting the nervous stomach, so i'm not getting pains or diarrhea or the panic attacks that came from this (as the medication relaxes the muscles in your bowel), I take codeine phosphate for the diarrhea which slows everything down, and i take loperamide with every meal also for the diarrhea. I exercise every day, i never drink fizzy drinks and i avoid foods high in fat and curries etc, probiotic yoghurts or yakult drinking yoghurt can be really helpful in stopping ibs symptoms. Making sure you eat enough and often is also good, as if you let yourself go hungry, it can really hurt and then when you do eat, your bowel can react quite badly - so eat regularly! I hope these things I have tried out are helpful to someone! :)

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andrea88 said on 15 November 2011

i have had chronic stomach pain for a year now,i have had so much time off work it is worrying me that i wont have a job soon,i have diarrhoea every day lost weight,been for the camera and ultra sound scans but nothing so today i have been the docs and he now thinks its ibs i recently found out i have an underactive thyroid my doc thought was causing my pain but thyroid nearly back to normal,i have also been for blood test today see if i have wheat allergy!!how do you cope with this,i am a single mum with a child off nearly 3 and feel like im letting her down as sometimes im in that much pain i dont want do anything,i dont go out with friends as scared off bein in pain or having diarrhoea when out its a nightmare!!anyone similar please write back

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bryndle1 said on 11 November 2011

I have suffered with my bowels for as long as I can recall but it got worse after having my children and a hysterectomy. I suffer with constipation and have tried everything including being x rayed whilst pellets went through my system - they took 9 days to go through, sitting on a potty having been given a barium meal and being expected to 'poo' whilst being x rayed (that didnt happen) and was awful!! Then I had hypnotherapy where I travelled 70 mins to the clinic and fell asleep for an hour in the chair!! I have ended up just taking 2-3 exlax every night. It keeps me regular, but I have a flare up every 3-4 months when I am really sore and bloated for 2-3 days. Not good is it?

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User613531 said on 06 November 2011

I have been reading about IBS as for the last few months I have been having some problems and i have no idea what is wrong. My systems are similar to IBS which are
almost every day I get cramping and really need to go a toilet (number 2) and I sometimes struggle to hold it in and end up having an accident so i have to go to the toilet ASAP. It is really getting me down. I have not changed my lifestyle nor have i been suffering from stress. Does this sound like IBS?

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claremcg said on 04 October 2011

Hi. I have been suffering from ibs for a year now. Went to the doctors over 5 times and they couldn't tell me what it was then got diagnosed with it 3 months ago. I had a blood test and a stool test. I was heavy breathing and sweating even going short journeys. Also being in the toilet for over an hour at a time. Could anyone tell me things to help me with it as the things the doctors have being saying haven't helped me much and don't know many people with it. And it can't be I’m not exercising enough as I was always out and was doing kickboxing twice a week. When I got diagnosed with it I wasn’t leaving the house and was house bound for over a month but eventually started going out but with a struggle as I couldn't get out of the toilet and was always panicking. I have being writing what I have being eating everyday but things that I take attacks to only happen sometimes one mine I agree with it next I don’t. I’m now only getting out once a week if I’m going shopping. Every time I know I’m going to social events I just feel sick, heartburn and bursting for the toilet. I have being taken colofac for these 3 months and I don't know if they work as I was still felling the exact same for up to 2 months then I started to feel better but think that might have been me just getting use to it myself. It’s ruining my life as I haven't been out with friends for over 3 months now and had to quit my college also in these 3 months I have only been out up to maybe 20-30 but with a family member. I have also missed family funerals as its being too sore form to go and I’m struggling to get a job now. I also have a fear of public transport now and feel better if I walk places. During the summer I also had to cancel my trip to flamingo land and Alton towers as I couldn't bare the journey and missed out on my indemand concert.

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jademilky said on 11 August 2011

oh my goodness angie you sound like me. got diagnosed 8 years ago, even had to spend a night in hospital to finally get treated seriously. Went on prozac as I also have panic attacks and anxiety and it went. Now years later I had a breakdown 4 weeks ago and gone on Escitalopram (after being on clomipramine, it made me fat so had to come off it) and I am still a little anxious but massively improved to how I was 4 weeks ago but every single day I have had diarrhoea and stomach cramps. I am veggie and we always joke how windy I am but it has just clicked today. My sample results of poo (yuck) came back clear so it must be the ibs playing up, brought on by my most recent anxiety/depression. I am too scared to take colofac just incase it makes me ill which is silly as I am curled up in a ball now in pain as I type this. Maybe anxious people are more prone to this? doc has told me to take kaolin solution for the diarrhoea but it isn't efffective and I am losing sooooo much weight. I won't go to hospital for tests as am just too anxious to go the 10 miles away from home as I have agoraphobic tendencies. I am my own worst enemy i know, but find there isn't much help for ibs sufferers esp if we have anxiety as they think we are neurotic lol.

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angie 81 said on 04 August 2011

I was diagnosed wiv ibs over 7 years ago at first i just had occasional episodes but in the last 3 years theirs not a day goes by wen i dnt av symptoms iv tried every medication goin n their all mentioned here. Iv not bin eatin proper n lost 4 stone in 3 yrs. I do cbt now to control anxiety n depression coz iv suffered frm that for over 10 years now the three bounce off each other. IM too scared to eat n developed a phobia of medications coz the side effects include stomch cramps and toilet issues im now tryin the eatin methd .

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Meadowlea said on 21 March 2011

I find this food information on this site very confusing (as with everything I have come across). With one breath it tells you to eat this do this and with the next it say eat this and do this which is the complete opposite of what you just read.
While I appreciate we will all have different intolerance's most of these do's and don't 's seem based on people with diarrhea but the what are you meant to eat when you don't have diarrhea or constipation that does not aggravate the bowel and cause constant pain and discomfort?

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