Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome affects up to one in five people.

IBS is characterized by:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramping

Symptoms frequently vary from one person to the next. For example, some people have constipation with IBS, whilst others have diarrhoea.

Many will experience both constipation and diarrhoea at different times. These symptoms may come and go, may persist, or may progressively worsen over time.

IBS generally doesn’t lead to serious conditions like cancer, however, it may cause significant discomfort. Our gastroenterology team at PIMS will assist to relieve your pain and implement lifestyle changes to minimise flare ups of IBS.

What is the cause of IBS?

Researchers have not yet found a single cause for IBS, however, the immune system may be involved. It’s also possible that the intestine may be especially sensitive to particular foods, or stress in some people. Bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine – small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) – has been a recent area of study for IBS causes.

How is IBS diagnosed?

There is no single test for IBS. The process of making a diagnosis begins with a physical examination and medical history. Blood tests, stool samples, and X-rays may be required to rule out other conditions, and a colonoscopy is also frequently undertaken.

How is IBS treated?

There is no single cure for IBS. Treatment generally concentrates on reducing or eliminating the particular problematic symptoms. For example, medications for constipation, diarrhoea, or abdominal pain may be prescribed. Antidepressants might also be beneficial.

Sometimes a course of antibiotics can improve IBS for months to years. Your PIMS gastroenterologist will work with you to tailor a treatment program most suitable to your specific symptoms.




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