At Home with Chris Jessen 2018 - 78
▲ G E N E R A L H E A LT H
IBS CAN BE
YOUR DIET -
KEEP A DIARY
TO HELP YOU
IBS is a common, long-term condition
of the digestive system. It can cause
bouts of stomach cramps, bloating,
diarrhoea and/or constipation.
IBS is thought to affect up to one in
five people at some point in their life,
usually first develops when a person is
between 20 and 30 and affects twice
as many women as men.
Symptoms tend to come and go,
in periods lasting a few days to a few
weeks, and are sometimes worse after
eating. They include:
Abdominal pain or cramps
Wind and bloating
Diarrhoea and/or constipation
Urgent need to go to the loo
Passing mucus from your bottom
Feeling like you can't fully
empty your bowels. Some people
078 | FEBRUARY 2018
also experience lower-back pain,
headaches and fatigue.
WHAT CAN YOUR GP DO?
Because there is no medical
explanation for IBS, it's usually
identified by ruling out other
conditions with similar symptoms,
such as coeliac disease or an infection.
Your doctor will make a diagnosis by
noting all of your symptoms to see if
they fit the IBS pattern.
There's no cure for IBS, but a range
of treatments can be prescribed to
relieve symptoms, including laxatives
for constipation, medicines to stop
diarrhoea and ease abdominal pain
and cramping. You may have to use
some of these in combination to get
the benefit. Some of these drugs are
also available over the counter - ask
your pharmacist for advice.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Because there is a known
psychological element to IBS, it's
important to avoid too much stress.
'Try to lead a balanced and relaxed
life,' says professor Nick Read, a
retired gastroenterologist and adviser
to the Gut Trust (thegutrust.org).
'Don't take on too much and give
yourself a chance to rest. And don't
isolate yourself - if there is something
worrying you, the best thing to do is
talk to someone about it.'
If you find that certain foods - such
as coffee, or spicy, fatty or high-fibre
foods - make your symptoms worse,
keep them to a minimum or cut
them out. 'How you eat is just as
important as what you eat,' adds Nick.
'Don't refuel on the hoof. Instead, use
mealtimes as an excuse for a break - sit
down and have your meal properly.'