IBS explained

THERE ARE AN ESTIMATED
6 MILLION IBS SUFFERERS IN THE UK.

IF YOU ARE CONCERNED
ABOUT YOUR SYMPTOMS,

IT'S IMPORTANT TO SEE YOUR GP
TO CONFIRM THE DIAGNOSIS

Irritable bowel syndrome
affects both men and women.

It tends to affect
more women than men.

It tends to affect younger women
rather than older women.

But really,
it's no respecter of age and sex.

It can affect anybody.

We might say that
we can all be predisposed

to getting irritable bowel syndrome
at certain times of our lives.

Particularly
stressful times of our lives.

It's difficult to define exactly what
causes of irritable bowel syndrome are

because irritable bowel syndrome
is a medically unexplained illness.

It's an illness, if you like,
without an obvious medical cause.

There's no infection,
no food allergy

but there are factors that seem
to bring irritable bowel syndrome on.

These include stress,
what's happening in your life,

and they include certain foods.

Often when people ask me about

the factors that bring on
irritable bowel syndrome,

I will say at it's foot and mood.

That's easy to remember.

The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
include constipation, diarrhoea,

alternating constipation and diarrhoea.

Abdominal pain,
usually low down in the abdomen.

Bloating, feeling of distension.

Flatulence, belching even.

A gurgling in the stomach.

These are the cardinal symptoms
of irritable bowel

but many people with irritable bowel
have a lot of other symptoms.

They have backache,

they have a feeling that they want to
pass water very frequently.

They may have breathlessness,
they may have headaches.

They may have dizziness.

So irritable bowel syndrome overlaps

with a lot of other
medically unexplained illnesses.

There are things you can do, of course.

But they tend to be symptomatic relief.

There are tablets you can take
for spasms in the bowel, for pain.

There are bowel regulators you can take
for diarrhoea like Loperamide.

There are treatments for constipation,
there are treatments for bloating.

You can get these from your doctor
or you can get advice from your doctor.

You can find out by use of a food diary

which foods are more likely
to upset you.

I work for a charity
that used to be caught the IBS Network,

now called the Gut Trust.

And we have a website that has

a very comprehensive
self-management programme.

WWW.THEGUTTRUST.ORG

If people log on to the Gut Trust,
become a member, go to the website,

they can find out all the details of
what irritable bowel syndrome is,

how to recognise it,

what symptoms you can expect
and how to manage these symptoms.

I find that's a very helpful tool

to encourage patients
to learn about their own condition

and that's the important thing.

NHS CHOICES

FOR MORE INFORMATION,
VISIT WWW.NHS.UK