What is IBS?
IBS is a common condition particularly effecting women. It is associated with abdominal pain, changes in bowel habit and often bloating. It can be distressing but it isn’t a dangerous condition as there’s no obvious abnormality of the bowel, that is why it is often called a functional disorder; it results in a disturbance or change in the functioning of the bowel without any change to it’s structure or obvious cause.
Although it can feel distressing, the condition poses no serious threat to your health and changes to diet and lifestyle will improve your symptoms.
The common symptoms include
- Abdominal pain or discomfort which often improves after the bowels have opened.
- Constipation or diarrhea or a combination of both which often alternate
- Bloating and wind
- Urgent need to open bowels
- A feeling of incomplete evacuation even after just opening bowels
If you think you could have IBS, make an appointment to see your GP. There are no specific tests to diagnose IBS, symptom can be similar to other gut disorders.
Your GP can take blood tests to rule out other gut conditions like Coeliac disease. It is important that this is done before making changes to your diet.
Top 10 Tips
- Eat regular meals especially breakfast
- Try to have smaller meals especially in the evening
- Try not to eat late as this can aggravate symptoms
- Cut down on fatty and fried foods
- Don’t eat too quickly, take your time and sit down to eat and chew your food well.
- Aim to have at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables spread throughout the day.
- Drink plenty of fluids but be careful about caffeine and alcohol containing drinks as these can aggravate symptoms. Try more water and herb teas.
- Take regular exercise, walking can help to improve symptoms.
- Try to take time to relax. Yoga or listening to music or relaxation tapes can be helpful as stress can aggravate IBS symptoms
- And if you’re unsure which foods may be causing symptoms of IBS; try keeping a food and symptom diary. It can also be a useful way to check that you are following the top 10 tips!