A Guide to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

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IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) - Stomach Pain

DR Andrew Greenland’s Guide To Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

One in five people in the UK will suffer with the digestive complaint Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) at some point in their life, and across the Western World it is believed that 20-25% of people suffer from IBS.

The first episode most commonly occurs in those in their twenties. Currently, twice as many women as men will be diagnosed with IBS here in the UK.

Doctors are seeing a surge in patients attending appointments with gastrointestinal complaints.

What Are The Symptoms Of IBS?

IBS denotes a mixed group of abdominal symptoms for which mainstream doctors are unable to identify an organic (physical) cause. The initial symptoms that patients suffer and lead to a GP visit and IBS diagnosis can include bouts of stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and /or constipation – or a combination of these symptoms.

By default, patients are often labelled as having IBS after serious conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis), diverticulitis and bowel cancer have been excluded.  This is important because of the impact of these conditions on long-term health and wellbeing, and because they are eminently treatable.

You can read more about Inflammatory Bowel Disease here: www.crohnsandcolitis.org.uk

What Causes IBS?

The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but it is thought to be related to increased sensitivity to pain coming from the gut and to food passing too quickly or slowly through the gut.  It is widely accepted that psychological stress has a big part to play in the condition.

You can read more about IBS on the NHS site: www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Irritable-bowel-syndrome/Pages/Introduction.aspx

How Do GP’s Deal With Suspected IBS?

GPs are sadly ill-equipped to deal with IBS, since it is an umbrella term used to describe a set of symptoms that are often contradictory and can differ hugely from person to person.

Rather than looking any further into the many potential contributory factors in patients with IBS symptoms, doctors often try and apply a ‘one size fits all’ treatment approach, which is unsuccessful 50% of the time.

Why See Dr Andrew Greenland If You Suspect Or Have Been Diagnosed With IBS?

At Dr Greenland’s Functional Medicine clinic in West London, we carefully screen and test for all relevant underlying causes / contributory factors in patients presenting with an ‘IBS-like’ picture, such as:

  • Food sensitivities – the most commonly offending foods are wheat, dairy, coffee, tea and citrus fruits, although an intolerance can result from exposure to the most seemingly innocuous of foods, that you might not expect.
  • Stomach acid and / or digestive enzyme deficiency – lead to incompletely digested foods irritating the gut
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) – excessive bacteria in the small intestine
  • Coeliac disease – inability to breakdown gluten in wheat, barley, rye and oats resulting in many symptoms that can overlap with IBS
  • Parasites – are a growing and often overlooked factor. 20% of all people tested have parasites;
  • Dysbiosis – imbalance of good and bacteria in the gut.
  • Yeast infection – such as Candida – causing a disruption in the normal gut flora
  • Lactose intolerance – failure to produce the enzyme lactase to digest the sugar in milk (lactose)
  • Fructose intolerance – failure to produce the enzyme fructose to digest the sugar in fruit (fructose)

We will also make sure that more serious conditions have been considered and excluded before we embark on a treatment plan.

Treatment is always individualised, but may involve involves dietary and lifestyle modifications, nutritional and botanical supplements.

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