What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and what are its symptoms?

For those with this condition, stomach aches and difficulty with bowel movements are a common occurrence. Some may even experience frequent watery bowels akin to diarrhoea. Some might undergo constipation or a mix of diarrhoea and constipation.

If you have IBS, your symptoms will include:

  • Stomach pain and cramps (usually after meals)
  • Diarrhoea and/or constipation
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Feeling full while eating
  • Nausea

How is IBS tested and treated? 

While there is no specific test for this condition, a doctor can diagnose you after discussing your symptoms and running his/her own choice of tests.

Medication is frequently used to treat this condition, although it cannot be cured completely. Counselling may also be useful in this process given that IBS can be triggered by stress and worry. Medicine that is usually prescribed includes those used to ease diarrhoea and/or constipation, antidepressants, and antispasmodics.

By your own initiative, you can also lessen your symptoms by staying away from food that could make your condition worse. These include food that induces gas, as well as dairy products for at least 2 weeks. In this process, it may be helpful to keep track of the food you eat and what causes a negative reaction in you.

It’s also important to consume fibrous foods, especially if you’re experiencing constipation. Fruits and vegetables are usually your best bet, although fibre pills and powder are also effective (however, fibre may also make your condition worse. Ensure that you cut back if this is the case). Lastly, exercise is just as crucial. By doing some exercise 3-5 days a week, this may alleviate your symptoms).

What can I expect post-treatment?

People with IBS live with it for the rest of their lives. Many find ways to reduce symptoms through diet and lifestyle changes. Before you do so, consult your doctor for recommendations and tips.

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