The Truth about; Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms Can Be Hard to Stomach. LIZ CONNOR Speaks to Health Expert Dr Ann Robinson to Find out More about the Condition

Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), April 17, 2018 | Go to article overview

The Truth about; Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms Can Be Hard to Stomach. LIZ CONNOR Speaks to Health Expert Dr Ann Robinson to Find out More about the Condition


Byline: LIZ CONNOR

SUFFERERS of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) will tell you that the symptoms can be painful and often embarrassing to live with. The telltale bloating, cramps and frequent toilet trips can occur at any time, wreaking havoc on the digestive system.

Thousands of people in the UK have been diagnosed with this common digestive order, and researchers believe as many as two in 10 people are currently living with IBS.

Not sure exactly what it is or how to tackle the symptoms? Dr Ann Robinson, lead GP at Bupa Health Clinics, reveals more about the causes, warning signs and treatments...

WHAT EXACTLY IS IBS AND WHO GETS IT? IBS affects 10-15% of the worldwide population, but because it isn't the type of topic many people feel comfortable discussing, lots of us are still confused about what it is and why we get it.

"Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a long-term condition that affects your digestive system," explains Dr Robinson. "It causes pain or discomfort in your tummy, and varying changes in your bowel habits."

Dr Robinson says It can develop at any age, but the first symptoms usually start appearing between the ages of 20 and 30 years old. "Women are twice as likely to get it as men," she adds.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS TO LOOK OUT FOR? THERE are a number of telltale unpleasant signs of IBS that should prompt you to visit your GP. "Some of the most common symptoms include bloating, wind or discomfort in your abdomen, which can often be felt on the left-hand side," says Robinson. "This discomfort can vary from a sudden sharp pain to a constant dull ache, and the pain may ease after going to the toilet. For some, it may also get worse after eating."

Erratic changes to your bowel movement is another clue that something isn't right in your gut. "Your stool may vary in consistency and can alternate between constipation and diarrhoea," says Dr Robinson, adding: "Sometimes you may need to go to the toilet urgently, and at other times you may have problems going."

Many sufferers describe accelerated bowel transit as a significant source of stress, with the fear of a sudden onset of diarrhoea causing anxiety about public outings.

"IBS symptoms can come and go; you may not have any symptoms for months and then get a flare-up," says Dr Robinson. "It's a good idea to keep a symptom diary and share it with your GP." She says that you should note down what foods you have eaten, how you are feeling at the time of a flare-up, as well as the symptoms you are experiencing.

Together with your GP, you can then use the findings to determine the foods and emotions that might trigger the symptoms, and decide which treatment is right for you.

WHAT ACTUALLY CAUSES IBS? …

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