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Irritable Bowel Syndrome - IBS

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome or “IBS” is a term used to describe a variety of chronic symptoms. The frequency and severity of these symptoms are different for each person, and can also vary with time. These symptoms may include:

Common symptoms

> Onset of symptoms 40yrs of age
> Abdominal discomfort or pain
> Diarrhoea or Constipation or both
> Bloating
> Fluctuating symptoms
> Improvement of symptoms on opening bowels
> No other apparent cause found

Other symptoms

> Passing mucous in the stools
> A feeling of Incomplete bowel emptying
> Urgency to empty bowels & incontinence
> Worsening of symptoms during menstrual periods or with certain foods
> Painful intercourse

* IBS does not cause bleeding from the back passage. You should always consult with you doctor if this occurs. These symptoms are not exclusive to IBS, and it may be important to see your doctor to make the correct diagnosis.

What is the cause of IBS?
The exact cause of IBS is not known. There are many potential factors including, food, hormones, genetics, bowel (colonic) bacteria, certain gastrointestinal infections, bowel hypersensitivity and social factors.

How common is IBS?
IBS is a very common condition which affects one in five people. IBS may also co-exist with other conditions such as functional dyspepsia, malabsorptions syndromes or Coeliac Disease.

Can IBS lead to cancer?
Whilst the symptoms of IBS can be severe and impact upon one’s life there is no evidence that bowel damage occurs or cancer.

Do I need any tests?
Investigations are not always required to make a diagnosis of IBS. However, your doctor may recommend some tests to exclude other conditions which have overlapping symptoms with IBS. These tests may include Gastroscopy, Colonoscopy, or Hydrogen Breath Tests.

What is the treatment for IBS?
Treatment for IBS can include a change in lifestyle, dietary modification and medications. Unfortunately no one medication treat IBS, and it may take time to find the right balance to treat all the symptoms.

General lifestyle recommendations include regular exercise, healthy balanced diet, plenty of fluid, minimise stress, adequate sleep and relaxation strategies (e.g. meditation, massage etc).

More Information?
Contact GastroNorth
www.ibis-australia.org
Recommended reading (PDF)

Information about specific conditions treated at GastroNorth

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