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How to know if you have IBS?

Do you find yourself regularly folded over with stomach cramps, unbuttoning your pants at the end of the day, or racing to the bathroom each morning? If you said ‘yes’ to the above,  you could be suffering from Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS).

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

IBS is a functional gut disorder. Meaning, when we look inside the digestive tract we cannot physically see anything wrong.

IBS is a disorder of the gut-brain axis, it results from miscommunication between the gut and brain. Results have shown that it is usually a lifelong problem as there is no cure for it.

The exact cause of IBS is unknown, however studies have shown a link between certain foods passing through your gut too quickly, or too slowly; having oversensitive nerves in your gut; stress; and genetics.

Common Signs and Symptoms of IBS

  • Bloating and abdominal distention
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Excessive gas/wind
  • Nausea
  • Indigestion or heartburn

How is IBS Diagnosed?

IBS is diagnosed after a process of elimination. Your doctor must first rule out other serious conditions which have similar symptoms to IBS like:

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Coeliac Disease
  • Diverticular Disease
  • Endometriosis

A blood or faeces sample test is usually taken to rule out these serious conditions. Some cancers all have similar symptoms to IBS, so it is important your doctor rules these out.

By doing this, your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms, such as:
1. What symptoms you have?
2. If they come and go
3. How often do you get them?
4. When you get them?
5. How long you’ve been experiencing these symptoms?

 
Relieving symptoms:

There is no single diet or medicine that works for everyone with IBS. However, changes made to your diet and lifestyle, and/or use of medication, can ease symptoms.

  1. Cook homemade meals using fresh ingredients
  2. Keep a diary what you eat – this will help you avoid trigger foods
  3. Exercise regularly
  4. Try probiotics for a month to see if that helps (yoghurt, kefir and kombucha have phenomenal amounts of probiotics)

If none of these help, you may need to see a dietician. A dietician may recommend a low FODMAP diet.

If pharmacy medicines are not helping, your doctor may prescribe stronger medication.

Lastly, if none of the above has helped, psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may be referred.

 

For those suffering from IBS, The IBS Network has insightful information that you may find helpful.
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