IBS For Dummies (UK Edition)
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects 20 per cent of the UK population. This Cheat Sheet helps you to recognise and manage your symptoms, and avoid the triggers can cause a flare-up of IBS.
Charting Your IBS Symptoms
When you go to see your doctor, think about the information you need to impart about your IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Explain if anyone in your family has a history of bowel trouble and explain when your symptoms began. Tell your doctor what treatment options you’ve tried and how successful they’ve been.
It’s also useful to fill out a questionnaire about your symptoms, such as this one.
Describe your symptoms. Tick all that apply.
Abdominal pain on the left side
Straining with a bowel movement
How long have you had these symptoms?
A few weeks
About 3 months
About 6 months
About 1 year
About 5 years
5 to 10 years
How often do you have these symptoms?
Once per month
Once per week
Several times per day
Eliminating Common IBS Triggers
An IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) trigger is something that sets off a chain reaction in the body leading to symptoms of diarrhea or constipation (or both). Here’s a short list of things you want to avoid while you’re getting your IBS symptoms under control:
Finding the Right Doctor for Your IBS
If you suspect that you have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), you want to find a caring doctor with a history of working with IBS patients. When you meet a new doctor for the first time, take this list of questions along with you.
Do you have patients with IBS? This may be the only question you need to ask. Keep in mind that up to 20 per cent of the population suffers from IBS. If a doctor says that she doesn’t have patients with IBS, she may have selective vision.
What do you think causes IBS? Lots of theories exist about what causes IBS. Ideally, you want a doctor to admit that the medical community hasn’t identified a single cause, but many triggers (such as diet and stress) play a role. If she claims to know what causes IBS 100 per cent of the time, ask for clarification, and be prepared to walk away.
How do you diagnose IBS? If your doctor mentions something called the Rome II criteria that’s a great sign. You also want to hear that she runs tests to rule out other bowel conditions, as well as to rule out conditions with similar symptoms.
What role does diet play in IBS? Most people with IBS are very aware that what they eat can trigger symptoms. You want your doctor to know that connection exists as well and to be aware that food allergies and intolerances can masquerade as IBS.
How do you treat IBS? You want to hear a doctor say that a variety of treatment options exist, and the right treatment plan is one that you and she create together. She should mention the importance of improving your diet, getting regular exercise, and reducing stress.
She may also mention medication or dietary supplements. An answer focused solely on medication isn’t ideal. While drugs help some people with IBS, they don’t cure the condition, and they don’t work for everyone.