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 and Imodium.
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.