IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome: An Overview

What is IBS?

IBS is a “functional gut disorder”, often with debilitating symptoms of abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating and a change in bowel habit. You can more than likely

Symptoms can be quite generic and unfortunately there are no specific diagnostic tests. Therefore, it can be difficult to diagnose. Other potential diagnoses and “red flag” symptoms need to be ruled out first, so you can end up feeling like the doctor has just dumped this diagnosis on you, because they don’t know what else it is.

To rule out these other diagnoses, means undergoing numerous tests and investigations. This can be embarrassing talking about your bowels and being poked and prodded. However, it’s better to have this done and rule out things like cancer (- or better to find out sooner rather than later, and to get it treated sooner).

first line advice and information about IBS


Treatment options for IBS

Treatment can involve:

  1. Medications, such as laxatives or antidiarrhoeal can be prescribed
  2. Diet and lifestyle advice (see above infographic)
  3. Psychological support, such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy)

Speak with your Doctor to discuss your options



Many people restrict their diet in an attempt to improve their symptoms – you may even be one of these people. But doing this can lead to nutritional inadequacy or even deficiencies. It can be difficult to know exactly what is causing the issue, and diet is often blamed.

I’ve come across quite a few people that have tried to follow a “low FODMAP” (Fermentable Oligo-saccharides Di-saccharides Mono-saccharides And Polyols) diet – a diet they’ve found on the internet.

People have even told me their doctor told them to go “Google it”. But this is no good and not very helpful, especially when you’re at the end of your tether and desperate for some help and support. Please don’t try doing this diet yourself, especially as there is a lot of misinformation out there and a Registered Dietitian can ensure your diet is nutritionally adequate.


Seek dietary advice from a Registered Dietitian


Also, I’ve worked with people who’ve told me that they’ve been to see a therapist or “Nutritionist”, who performed numerous tests on them, such as using electrodes (to test the electromagnetic conductivity) to identify the trigger food(s), and consequently restrict their diet. Sometimes they have also been prescribed various and numerous supplements and remedies.

If you are suffering with any gastrointestinal symptoms, please do seek medical advice.

If you’ve been diagnosed with IBS, a Registered Dietitian can help you too. Please note, they will ask you some awkward questions about your bowel habits – this is because we need to get as much detail as possible, to try to identify what the issue is, in order to provide the most appropriate and tailored advice.

Please feel free to contact me for more help and advice.

You can also check out more info from NHS Choices and IBS Network


What’s your experiences of IBS and how do you currently manage your symptoms? … or are you currently struggling with them? 

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