Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a very common disorder of your gastrointestinal (digestive) tract.
Typical symptoms are abdominal pain or cramping and irregular bowel function. Patients may experience diarrhoea followed by constipation a few days later. They may also have abdominal swelling.
There can be several causes of IBS including a change in diet or stress and anxiety. IBS can also develop after recovery from another gastrointestinal disorder such as food poisoning.
You should see your GP in the first instance. They may recommend tests to rule out any other gastrointestinal disorders or coeliac disease (gluten intolerance).
How is IBS treated?
The symptoms of IBS often ease or settle without treatment. Your treatment will depend on your particular symptoms. Treatment for IBS may include dietary restrictions. You may be asked to keep a food diary to help identify foods that may trigger symptoms.
Medication to ease intestinal spasms (antispasmotic medication) may also be recommended. Many are available without prescription. Over the counter medication to treat your specific symptoms such as diarrhoea or constipation may also be recommended.
If conservative treatment is not successful your GP may refer you to a specialist consultant.