Monthly Health with Dr Phil Dyer


This month Dr Dyer gives advice on irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects both men and women. It is a common functional disorder of the gut, with symptoms including recurrent abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating and irregular bowel function with no obvious cause.


For those with the condition, symptoms are mild and many don’t recognise them, meaning they remain undiagnosed. In spite of this, IBS is the most common disorder diagnosed by gastroenterologists – specialist doctors in digestive diseases and disorders – and can affect anyone at any age, but commonly first develops in young adults and teenagers. 


The length and severity of each bout of pain caused by IBS can vary greatly and can be described as a ‘spasm’. Other symptoms sometimes occur including nausea, headaches, belching, poor appetite, tiredness, backache, muscle pains, quickly feeling full after eating, heartburn and an associated ‘irritable bladder’.


It is important to have a healthy diet, however, some people with IBS find certain foods can trigger symptoms or even make them worse. Eating regular meals and taking the time to eat at a leisurely pace can help, along with drinking at least eight cups of fluid, especially water, each day.


In most people with IBS, the condition tends to persist long-term, however, the severity of symptoms tends to fluctuate. Although it poses no serious threat to health, it can have an adverse effect on a person’s quality of life. Your GP can give you information on changes in general lifestyle, physical activity, diet and symptom-targeted medication that can all aid the symptoms.


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