Irritable Bowel Syndrome


Irritable bowel syndrome (or IBS) affects the large bowel. People with IBS appear to have sensitive bowels that are easily ‘upset’. IBS is a very common problem. One in five Australians have the unpleasant symptoms of IBS at some time and it may come and go over a person’s life.

What are the symptoms of IBS?

The main symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain or discomfort, stomach bloating, flatulence and chronic diarrhoea or constipation (sometimes alternating between the two).

Although IBS can be painful, it does not damage the large bowel or other parts of the digestive system. No one knows the exact underlying cause of IBS. Different treatments will work for different types of IBS. Avoiding individual triggers can help many people. Medications may be useful when your IBS is ‘playing up.’

How do I manage IBS?

Lifestyle factors play a major role in managing IBS. Areas to focus on are your diet, exercise habits, how much alcohol or coffee you drink, and stress levels. Dietary considerations include looking at how much fibre you eat & what types of fibre, how much fluid you drink, & food intolerances such as milk (lactose).

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