Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition of the bowel affecting 1 in 6 people. Although harmless, IBS can be very distressing for some sufferers.
The symptoms of IBS include
- Abdominal pain or discomfort, often relieved by passing a bowel motion
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Bloating, abdominal fullness or wind
- Mucus in the bowel motions.
Most people with IBS have a 'sensitive' bowel which is easily upset. Common triggers include stress, certain foods, a recent bowel infection and some drugs.
Should I see my doctor?
Many people have only mild or occasional symptoms and do not need treatment. Sometimes, however, more serious bowel conditions may be present and investigation may be required. See your doctor if you have
- Blood in the bowel motions
- Symptoms commencing after age 40
- Weight loss
- Family history of bowel cancer.
- If you are worried about your symptoms.
How is IBS treated?
Extra dietary fibre helps many sufferers and should be introduced gradually. Eliminate foods that aggravate your condition, eg dairy foods or alcohol. Consider ways to reduce stress, such as exercise, yoga or counselling.
Medication is also available to treat constipation, diarrhoea or cramps. Peppermint oil works for some people.
For more information check out http://www.gesa.org.au/ or http://www.ibis-australia.org/.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.