Posted on April 3, 2017 · Posted in News

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a functional disorder, characterised by disturbances in the normal function of the bowel. It is not easy to diagnose and it is important that other inflammatory bowel diseases such as crohns, ulcerative colitis, diverticular disease, bowel cancer or coeliac disease are ruled out. This is why it is important to have a diagnosis made by your GP or consultant.

The true cause of IBS is unknown. It can run in families. It can also appear after a gut infection or food poisoning. Stress can exacerbate IBS symptoms.

The symptoms of IBS vary between individuals and include abdominal bloating, discomfort and/or distension. There is often a change in bowel habits and excess production of gas, often offensive. Some persons complain of having heartburn, nausea or a feeling of being overfull. Some IBS sufferers feel tired and on occasions fibromyalgia can be attributed to the IBS. Some people may have diarrhoea others constipation. Symptoms can vary and originate in the upper or the lower gut depending on what areas are affected.

IBS treatment is to manage the symptoms. This can be done through drugs such as moberverine or peppermint oil to reduce abdominal cramping. Peppermint tea is also a useful addition. Yoga, meditation, reiki, aromatherapy, reflexology and exercise can be used to aid relaxation, reduce stress and alleviate IBS symptoms. CBT can also be used to manage stress and anxiety issues. Dietary management is key to IBS management.

First line dietary treatment:-

  • Avoid fatty and processed foods eg biscuits, cakes, ready meals
  • Wholegrain, unprocessed carbs. Cutting back on wheat is often beneficial
  • Try lactose free milks or cheese if suspect lactose intolerance
  • Insoluble fibre eg wholegrain cereals should be removed if diarrhoea predominant
  • Soluble fibre eg oats, barley, nuts, seeds, fruit, veg and pulses good if constipated
  • Avoid excess caffeine. Try decaff teas and coffees
  • Don’t overeat, and enjoy slow relaxed meals
  • Eat small regular meals.
  • Keep hydrated
  • Linseeds may help improve wind and bloating symptoms. Work up over a few weeks from 1 tsp to 1 tbsp daily

Second Line Dietary Treatment:-

Low FODMAPS (Fermentable, Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols). Saccharides is another name for sugar. Some sugars are poorly absorbed in the small bowel and are like fast food for gut bacteria causing excess gas and consequently bloating, pain, and distension.

  • Cut out fructans found in wheat based products, onions, leek and celery
  • Be wary of many fruits and vegetables check with a registered dietitian
  • Choose only lactose free dairy products
  • Reintroduce foods in a structured manner to ascertain personal sensitivities and amounts

It is important IBS is diagnosed by a medical professional and ask for a referral to a registered dietitian if considering low FODMAPS.

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