I’ve had lots of enquiries on the site from people worrying about IBS. What causes irritable bowel syndrome? Well, the honest truth is we’re not quite sure. Depression and stress certainly can aggravate it, certain things that you eat, for certain people, can change the way your bowels work and irritate them, and also lack of fibre in the diet can be responsible too.
Why is it so difficult to diagnose, a lot of you want to know, and also you want to know if you can get a second opinion. Well, of course you can always get a second opinion for anything that you might be worried about. But it’s difficult to diagnose because everybody’s different, everyone’s symptoms are slightly different. Some people will be irritated by certain foods, by certain mealtimes. And for other people it can be a completely different set of foods—that’s what makes it so hard to pinpoint and diagnose accurately.
I’ve got a lot of comments from you about what other conditions might cause similar symptoms, so if it’s not irritable bowel, what else could it be? Well, I suppose top of the list has to be inflammatory bowel conditions, things like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s. These can cause painful cramps and a bloody, mucusy diarrhoea, they tend to be a lot more severe symptoms than those of irritable bowel.
It seems a lot of you actually have IBS and you want to know how you can control the symptoms, how you can improve it by using your diet. Well, actually, because everybody’s individual, you need to look very carefully at what you eat and work out what makes it worse, what really upsets you and what can you eat without any problems at all. And the best way to do that is to keep a diary over the course of a week or two, write down everything that you’ve eaten, and when your IBS is bad and when it’s much better. And that way you can work out what things you can eat and what things you should try and avoid.
Also you want to know what other treatments, apart from diet, are available to help IBS. Well, avoiding stress if possible—it’s not always possible, I know, but if you can manage to avoid stress or learn relaxation techniques, that’s very helpful. The final thing is exercise. The more exercise you can do, the healthier, actually, your bowel will be, and therefore your bowel movements.
Doctor Responses: Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Dr Christian answers your most frequently asked questions about IBS such as: What causes it? Why is it difficult to diagnose? How can you treat it?
With thanks to the Baker Street Medical Centre
There is some evidence to suggest that certain types of yoga may help alleviate the symptoms of IBS. You can watch a yoga video tutorial for IBS here >
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