Irritable Bowel Syndrome
What is it?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders, with up to 20% of the population suffering from it at some point in their life. The typical symptoms of IBS include either recurring diarrhoea or recurring constipation, and some patients also suffer from both diarrhoea and constipation at different times. Additional symptoms can include stomach pain (which is sometimes relieved by a bowel movement), bloating, nausea, and wind. IBS can wax and wane, and patients may experience a few weeks or even a few months of good health before the symptoms return.
IBS is not a psychological disorder but has come to be closely linked with both stress and anxiety. Even people who do not experience IBS can find themselves needing to go to the toilet when they are experiencing stressed nervous or anxious.
DIY self diagnosisThere is no specific medical test for IBS, and it is sometimes called a diagnosis of ‘exclusion’. This means that a doctor may rule out other bowel and stomach complaints such as coeliac disease or inflammatory bowel disease before giving a diagnosis of IBS. It is very important that patients do not try to self-diagnose IBS as it is impossible for a patient to tell the difference between IBS symptoms and bowel symptoms caused by other disorders.
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