Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
This is a very common condition where patients can suffer intermittent abdominal pains, bloating and change in bowel habit. It is a benign and self-limiting condition but it is important that other more serious bowel conditions have been excluded by a qualified doctor before the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome is made. There are multiple recommended treatments for irritable bowel syndrome but no one treatment is effective for all patients. Sometimes simple headache tablets, anti-diarrhoeals and anti-spasmodic medications help. Sometimes patients find that their bowels are sensitive to certain types of foods and they should try to be a personal detective for food sensitivity. Some of the main culprits are wheat and wheat products, milk and milk products or fruit and fruit juices. Patients can try a one week exclusion diet of a foodstuff that they think might upset them and see if their symptoms disappear in that week. If the symptoms disappear then the patient may need to avoid that foodstuff but if there is no difference in IBS symptoms then it is probably not the excluded foodstuff causing the trouble. There is undoubtedly a brain-gut axis and sometimes concerns in the subconscious can manifest themselves by upset bowels. Some patients find relaxing therapies such as meditation or hypnotherapy useful. Most patients learn to live with their IBS but some particularly afflicted IBS patients may benefit from a diagnostic laparoscopy under general anaesthesia to search for adhesions that can be divided or other rare conditions.