• What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

    It is a common disorder of the large intestines that may cause pain, bloating and changes in bowel habits. It mainly interferes with the normal functions of the large intestine (colon). IBS is non-threatening in nature and can affect up to 20% of the population.

  • What are the symptoms of IBS?

    Abdominal pain, bloating, and discomfort are the main symptoms of IBS. Other symptoms are diarrhoea, constipation or a mixture of both. As normal bowel function varies from person to person, some people find that their symptoms subside after a few months and then return, while others experience a constant worsening of symptoms over time. The symptoms may worsen when one is stressed, or has irregular meals.

  • What causes IBS?

    To date, there is no known organic cause for IBS. However, scientific research has shown that individuals with IBS seem to have more sensitive and reactive colons compared to other people. Researchers agree that IBS occur due to a vicious cycle of events such as dietary change, stress and anxiety, or recent illness. Generally, women are more susceptible to IBS than men.

  • How is IBS diagnosed?

    IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion, generally diagnosed on the basis of a complete medical history that includes a careful evaluation of symptoms and a physical examination. Diagnostic tests such as blood tests or x-rays may be required to ensure that your symptoms are not caused by something other than IBS. More importantly , adequate examination of the colon with colonoscopy, is often needed.

  • How is IBS treated?

    There is no known cure for IBS, but many options are available to alleviate the symptoms.

    • Low fat, High fibre diet. Change to a low fat, high fibre diet. Keep a food diary to note the foods that seem to worsen your condition, and try to avoid them.
    • Small meals. Take more small meals instead, or decrease the quantity of food intake.
    • Medication. Medication helps in relieving symptoms effectively. The doctor may suggest fibre
    • supplements, probiotics, laxatives for constipation or medicine to decrease diarrhoea and to relieve or reduce pain.

    • Stress and anxiety. IBS symptoms tend to worsen when one is under stress. Some ways to cope with stress include counseling and support, relaxation training or obtaining adequate sleep.
    • Clinical Hypnotherapy. Patients learn how to influence and gain control of their gut function, thereby be able to change the way the brain modulates their gut activity.
  • Is IBS all in the mind?

    Studies have shown that patients with IBS are 50-60% more likely to experience anxiety and mood disorders as compared to other people. However, this should not be taken to mean that IBS is caused by psychiatric illness or vice versa.

    It is interesting to note that there is a strong link between the gut and the brain as both organs use many of the same chemical messengers. With this in mind, it’s easy to see how a disturbance in function of one is able to cause symptoms in the other.

  • Will IBS develop into other health problems?

    No, IBS will not lead to serious diseases such as cancer. IBS will likely recur, but it does not cause permanent harm to the intestines. Surgery is not required and it does not shorten one’s lifespan.

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