Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is the name we give to a collection of symptoms causing a dysfunction in the bowel. It’s a big problem, incredibly it affects one third of the population and we have all suffered with IBS in varying degrees at some point in our lives.
The symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain and spasms sometimes relieved by a bowel movement
- Diarrhoea and / or constipation and often an unpredictable bowel pattern
- Bloating and excess wind often with loud bowel sounds
- Feeling of incomplete emptying after a bowel movement
Stress is a well known factor that affects our bowels, this makes them oversensitive and then we can’t tolerate the foods we normally enjoy. My patients cut out healthy foods from their diet but it’s not treating the cause. A bland diet will help short term but complementary therapies such as relaxation, therapeutic and abdominal massage, hypnotherapy, reflexology and acupuncture can be really helpful. These relaxation therapies help you and your gut relax and so your bowel will function better.
Anti-spasmodic medication such as alverine, mebeverine and peppermint oil are really helpful during those severe painful bloating flare ups. Probiotics also calm and relax the gut, they are living micro-organisms (part of our gut flora) which keep us healthy. Our gut flora has so many important roles, which include nutrient metabolism, modulating immune function and supporting digestive health. When this is affected is causes a huge range of symptoms including headaches, tiredness, muscle and joint pains, indigestion, anxiety and depression.
If you’re not emptying your bowel properly a build up can cause these symptoms. As mentioned in my previous blogs Peristeen anal irrigation is a very efficient way to empty the bowel just using warm water.
I hope you’re now feeling positive about how you can improve your bowel symptoms. Please don’t be embarrassed, book a visit with your GP or Practice Nurse. Remember you are not alone, there are so many treatments available and it’s wonderful to see how people’s lives change after suffering for so many years!
About the author
Sister Sue Ryder is a Pelvic Floor Specialist Nurse working at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Sue specialises in pelvic floor dysfunction and functional bowel problems. She provides several treatment clinics including Biofeedback treatment, trans-anal irrigation and neuromodulation. She also assists in Specialist Pelvic Floor Clinics jointly with Urogynaecologists and Colorectal Surgeons. Sue teaches on various study days and has written guidelines and protocols about her Specialist Clinical Practice.