Thursday, 8 March 2012

Health Matters: Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Q I have been suffering from the embarrassing symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome for a few years now but recently it has become a much bigger problem. The effects have now started to interfere with day-to-day activities making it difficult to lead a normal life. I understand that there is no miracle cure but is there anything I can do to ease the symptoms?

A Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder of the gut and many sufferers will empathise with the embarrassing symptoms you have.

IBS affects around one in five people at some stage in their lives and though twice as common in women than it is in men, it can affect people at any age. Many things can trigger it, including suffering from stress and anxiety as well as allergies to certain foods and drinks. Common suspects would be alcohol, fizzy drinks, chocolate, caffeine, processed snacks and fried or fatty food.

There is no definitive cause, which is why the condition is so difficult to diagnose and treat.

IBS is a functional disorder with a number of symptoms, some of the most common being pain and discomfort in the abdomen that can often resemble a spasm, bloating or swelling in the area, chronic diarrhoea, constipation or sometimes a combination of all of them. Symptoms such as the urgent need to go to the toilet, the feeling that you have not fully emptied your bowels and excessive wind can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing. Although IBS and the related effects are not life threatening or dangerous they can be debilitating for sufferers and can certainly interfere with simple daily activities.

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