Ibs: Symptoms, Treatment and Causes

What Is IBS?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common, chronic condition, which affects the large intestine, usually for the first time when a person is between 20 and 30 years of age. Around twice as many women are affected as men, with 1 in 5 people in the UK affected at one point in their life.

IBS Symptoms

·      Cramps

·      Abdominal pain

·      Bloating

·      Flatulence

·      Diarrhoea, or constipation, or both

IBS is a chronic condition that needs to be managed long-term. A small number of people with IBS have severe symptoms. Some people can control their symptoms by managing diet, lifestyle and stress. Severe symptoms can be treated and managed with medication and counselling. Please contact MyHealthcare Clinic on 0207 099 5555 for a consultation with one of our private GPs, if you are suffering any of the aforementioned symptoms.

What causes IBS?

The exact cause of IBS isn’t clear. Factors that seem to play a role in IBS include:

·      Intestinal muscle contractions – the walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract, moving food through your digestive tract. When contractions get stronger they can last longer than normal and can cause flatulence, bloating, and diarrhoea. Weak intestinal contractions can slow the food passage, leading to hard, dry stools.

·      The nervous system – abnormalities in the nerves in the digestive system can cause you to experience greater than normal discomfort when your abdomen stretches due to passing flatulence, or stools. Poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines can cause your body to over-react to changes that normally occur in the digestive process, resulting in pain, diarrhoea or constipation.

·      Extreme infection – IBS can develop after a severe bout of diarrhoea (gastroenteritis) which can be caused by bacteria, or a virus. IBS may also be associated with a surplus of bacteria in the intestines (bacterial overgrowth).

·      Early life stress – people exposed to stressful events, especially in childhood, tend to have more symptoms of IBS.

·      Changes in gut microbes – examples include changes in bacteria, fungi, and viruses, which normally stay in the intestines and play a key role in our health system. Research indicates that the microbes in people with IBS may be different to those in healthy people.

For a consultation with one of our private GPs, please contact MyHealthcare Clinic here.