There is increasing recognition of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) as a distinct entity and with increased understanding comes a realisation that a number of treatments can be effective in improving outcomes. IBS is extremely common, affecting between 10-20% of adults.

Of all the chronic illnesses with unpleasant symptoms, IBS almost certainly gets less attention from doctors than any other.  It may not cause any long-term health problems, but IBS does significantly impact on quality of life.  Common symptoms that constitute IBS are normally defined by the patient having had at least two of the following symptoms for a minimum of three months: 

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Flatulence
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain

Although IBS is often longstanding it is important to remember that IBS does not cause any damage to the body.  The symptoms that different people experience range from minor to very disabling therefore treatment should be individualised, i.e. some patients may not require any specific treatment other than ensuring the diagnosis is correct whereas others may be very limited in what they can do and therefore do require treatment. 

Post your initial consultation and blood tests it is possible to split patients into three groups: 

  • Typical IBS according to pre-set criteria.
  • Atypical symptoms.
  • Alarm symptoms. 

Patients with alarm symptoms for more serious diseases will be investigated immediately, those with atypical symptoms will also have further investigations and either re-allocated to the IBS group or treated according to the pathology encountered.   

 IBS is treated by a combination of: 

  • Lifestyle changes 
  • Dietary and nutritional changes 
  • Medications 
  • Probiotics 
  • Stress reduction