What is IBS? Symptoms, diagnosis and remedies


by Lorna White |

If you've ever experienced IBS, you'll know how debilitating it can be when you get a flare-up, so it's important to know more about the triggers and treatments.

IBS stands for Irritable Bowl Syndrome, and it's a fairly common condition which affects the body's digestive system.

It can cause things like stomach cramps, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea. Unfortunately, there's no cure, and it's likely to be a lifelong problem. However, symptoms can come and go and they can be controlled by diet and lifestyle changes.

The cause is often unknown, but it's often linked to oversensitive nerves in your gut, stress and a family history of IBS.

To dig a little deeper into IBS, we spoke to Karine Patel, Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist for Dietitian Fit & Co to find out more about the symptoms, causes and ways to prevent your IBS from flaring.

What is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), also known as irritable colon, is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects the digestive system, mainly the large intestine.

What are the symptoms of IBS?

Symptoms can come and go, as it can be triggered by certain foods and drinks. Symptoms of IBS can vary from one person to the other, and can also greatly vary from one day to the other, but the most common ones are the following:

• Stomach cramps - these usually get better after passing stool.

• Bloating

• Excessive wind/ gas

• A change in the bowel, such as constipation or diarrhoea and sometimes can vary between the two.

• Stomach pain or cramps (usually gets worse as the day goes by)

• Fatigue, lack of energy

How is it diagnosed?

While there is no specific test that exists to diagnose IBS, it is often diagnosed based on your symptoms. Your GP will often recommend some tests to rule out other possible gut diseases such as a blood test to rule out coeliac disease or have a stool to rule out colitis or Crohn's.

The best way to monitor and identify if you have IBS is through an elimination diet called FODMAP

What changes can you make to help IBS?

• You can try the FODMAP diet to identify the foods that your body can’t digest well and that cause the symptoms. The FODMAP diet is considered the best and the most effective treatment for IBS.

Read our guide to the foods you should eat and avoid if you have IBS.

• Eat smaller meals more frequently

• Cook your vegetables

• Avoid fizzy drinks

• Manage stress levels

• Engage in physical activity daily and be more active

• Lower caffeine intake to avoid stimulating the symptoms

• Some Probiotics may help lower the symptoms too

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