The word “irritable” makes Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) sound like nothing more than a bit of an annoyance. But for around three in 10 Australians who experience IBS at some time, it can be more than just irritable, and actually quite painful.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a condition that affects the large bowel (or colon). We don’t know the exact cause of IBS but quite often people report experiencing issues in their diet, with stress, having an infection, or being on certain medications as possible triggers before receiving an IBS diagnosis.
It’s a “gut” issue, that can vary from mildly discomfort to being quite painful, and is more likely to affect women than men.
IBS is not to be confused with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) which is a collective term that encompasses conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
As with many conditions, the symptoms of IBS can also be attributed to many other conditions, so your doctor may look at other possibilities for your symptoms than IBS. But in general, key symptoms that people with IBS typically experience include:
• Abdominal pain, • Abdominal discomfort, • Bloating, • Chronic diarrhoea, • Or chronic constipation, • Mucus in your faeces, • Pain, related to a bowel movement • Changes in frequency of bowel movements, or changes in your faeces, • The feeling of an incomplete bowel movement (when you’ve just had a bowel movement), • Nausea.
Of course, you are unlikely to experience all these symptoms, and there could be some that aren't on the list above too.
You are considered more likely to experience IBS if you are:
• Under 50 • Female • Have a family history • Have anxiety or depression.
But anyone can be diagnosed with IBS at some point in their lives, regardless if you do not fit into any of the criteria above.
As always, your own medical history and circumstances are different to anyone else’s, so the best place to start is by making an appointment with a GP. In your appointment, your GP may ask you questions about your symptoms and medical history. They may then recommend further tests such as a blood test, stool sample or perhaps even a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy to investigate further.
Treatment options may also vary based on your own medical circumstances, but it could include things such as dietary changes or medication. Research has also suggested that behavioural therapies to reduce stress or anxiety may also be useful, if either of those factors is a trigger for your IBS.
Luckily, here as SwiftDoc we are able to offer a wide range of options to help you manage your IBS from the initial appointment and ongoing management with a GP, referrals for pathology or further investigations and our in-house dietitian and psychology services – all via video link from the comfort of your own home.
So don’t put up with the “irritation” of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. If this is something that concerns you, then make an appointment with a GP to start your journey back to better health.
Healthdirect, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Accessed March 2022.
Mayo Clinic, Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Accessed March 2022.
NPS Medicinewise, Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Accessed March 2022.