Up to 1 in 5 people in the UK develop irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) at some stage in their life.

Today irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common long-term gut disorder.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) often first develops when a person is between 20 and 30 years of age. It affects around twice as many women as men.

The synonym for IBS is allergic colitis, which makes the principal management of the condition the management of food sensitivities.

Symptoms of IBS

Symptoms can be quite variable and intermittent and include:

  • abdominal pain
  • bloating
  • bouts of diarrhoea or constipation
  • headaches
  • belching
  • poor appetite
  • heartburn

Today’s western diet includes high fats, sugars and refined carbohydrates together with low fibre and frequent repetition of the same foods, which may all contribute to IBS.  Today’s diet varies greatly from our ancestors’. Stone Age people would eat everything that they could catch or find that was edible. This all led to unavoidable variety, freshness (as there was no refrigeration) and only seasonal exposure to fruits and vegetables.

With IBS, there can be diarrhoea and increased motility of the large intestine, or slowed motility of the small intestine and occasionally confusion between these in the function of the gastrointestinal tract. Sometimes atonic bowel and constipation will develop. In this case the treatment programmes for constipation should be followed, in particular, high doses of pantothenic acid, potassium, magnesium and folic acid, together with fibre.

Also, our ancestors dealt primarily with stressful conditions relating to temporary, physical threatened violence from other species and the need for ‘fight or flight’ responses. Today most of our stresses are perhaps from our own thoughts and may continue over an extended period of time, which may also contribute.

Many of today’s stresses often relate to:

  • stressful conditions at work, with deadlines to meet
  • many worries from life events, such as death of a family member
  • divorce
  • financial problems due to house moving and increasing mortgages
  • a new member of the family
  • a change of job or redundancy
  • a worrying nature

Identifying the causes

Some people with IBS find that one or more foods can trigger symptoms, or make symptoms worse (food intolerance or sensitivity).

The commonest food intolerances that cause symptoms in the UK are:

  • wheat
  • dairy products
  • coffee (and other caffeine-rich drinks)
  • potatoes
  • corn
  • onions

Craving and eating a specific food more than 3 times per week may indicate a sensitivity to that food.

Treatment of IBS

Along with ruling out any other conditions, understanding IBS may help you to be less anxious about the condition, which may help to ease the symptoms.

At Breakspear Medical, we use a food (and other allergies) management technique called low-dose immunotherapy (LDI, also referred to as provocation/neutralisation) to test and reduce allergic and sensitivity reactions.

Along with changes in diet, we will recommend supplementation to provide gastrointestinal support, which is essential when dealing with IBS. A daily dose of psyllium, which is a natural, water-soluble, gel-producing fibre extracted from the husks of blond psyllium seeds, wheat bran and linseed powder may be beneficial. Herbal supplements including evening primrose oil, peppermint, fennel, wormwood, chamomile and various other natural digestive tract stimulators may also help.

We also perform lactose tolerance tests, bacterial overgrowth breath tests, urinary organic acid and stool analysis to allow our experts to get a clear picture of how your body is dealing with food. Gut motility is often under the control of the autonomic nervous system and can be affected by any disease in which the autonomic nervous system is imbalanced, such as stress-related conditions and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Costs

Because we treat each patient individually, there is no standard treatment programme for IBS at a set price.  After your first appointment, you will be given a detailed estimate, with your recommended treatment programme in detail with all the costs, which will be explained to you by your Patient Liaison Officer.

On the day of your appointment or anytime afterward, if you have any specific questions regarding prices, estimates and treatment programmes, please contact a Patient Liaison Officer, by phone 01442 261 333 ext 293, or email: liaison@breakspearmedical.com

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