Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) - this
diagnosis should only safely be made after referral to hospital for
examination. Very common - over one third of us will have irritable bowel
symptoms each year and not be referred. Symptoms are similar to bowel cancer but
don’t persist, they come and go, with long stretches where the gut goes back to
normal. Many IBS patients have recurring symptoms which need investigation at
some time to make sure it is not more serious.
What to do
Fortunately for most people the symptoms
tend to be mild, pass and need little or no treatment. If diarrhoea is the
symptom - try a low fibre diet with or without constipating drugs like Lomotil
Constipation - high fibre diet.
Abdominal pain and bloating - major
symptoms which are extremely difficult to treat - most settle by themselves or
come and go so you get periods of relief.
If symptoms persist, go to your doctor to
exclude anything more serious. For some, IBS is a severe problem in their work
and home lives and very difficult to cope with.