IBS can affect quality of life and it is very important to check with your doctor that the symptoms you are experiencing are not a sign of something more serious. I help people reduce the intensity of symptoms and also reduce the impact of symptoms on quality of life. If you are asking yourself, ‘Do I have IBS? take our IBS quiz and also for more information about my London IBS hypnosis sessions, click here. Use this article as a quick guide, but always check with you doctor to ensure you get the best care and appropriate diagnosis.
Do I Have IBS Quiz
- Have you had abdominal pain at least one day a week during the past 3 months?
- If yes to above, have you experienced at least two of the following?
- Pain associated with bowel movements?
- Pain associated with a change in the frequency of bowel movements?
- Pain sometimes associated with constipation or diarrhoea
If you answered “no” to either of the questions, then it is likely that you do not have IBS; however, you may still want to consult a physician if you answered “yes” to any of the questions.
If you answered “yes” to both of the questions, then you might have IBS. You’re not alone! Many people live with this common digestive disorder. There are treatment options available to decrease or eliminate your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
If you suffer from the following ongoing symptoms, you might have IBS:
- Abdominal Pain
IBS is a chronic, often debilitating, functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder with symptoms that include abdominal pain, bloating, and altered bowel behaviours, such as constipation and/or diarrhoea, or alternating between the two. In IBS, the function, or movement, of the bowel is not quite right. There are no medical tests to confirm or rule out a diagnosis and yet it is the most common GI condition worldwide and the most frequent disorder presented by individuals consulting a gastrointestinal specialist (gastroenterologist).
IBS can begin in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood and can resolve unexpectedly for periods throughout an individual’s lifespan, recurring at any age. Studies show it could affect as many as 13-20% of people at any given time. The lifetime risk for a person to develop IBS is 30%. In most Western nations, IBS seems to arise significantly more frequently in women than in men, but the reason for this remains unclear.
Although each person has a unique IBS experience within the range of known symptoms, this condition can significantly decrease a person’s quality of life. Despite this, only about 40% of those who have IBS symptoms seek help from a physician. IBS frequently affects individuals of working age, which can lead to an increased financial burden when they are too sick to work, either by taking many sick days (absenteeism) or not being able to work as well while at work.
Over the years, some have called this collection of symptoms by many names, including mucous colitis, nervous colon, spastic colon, and irritable colon, but these are all misleading, mostly because IBS is not limited to the large intestine (colon). Sometimes, IBS is confused with colitis or other inflammatory diseases of the intestinal tract, but the difference is clear – in IBS, inflammation does not seem to accompany symptoms.
Symptoms of IBS
Almost every person has experienced abdominal cramping, bloating, constipation, or diarrhoea at some point in his or her life. However, those who have IBS experience these multiple symptoms more frequently and intensely, to the extent that they interfere with day-to-day living.
A person who has IBS likely has a sensitive digestive system with heightened reactivity, so that the GI tract responds quite differently to normal gut stimuli, such as the passage of solids, gas, and fluid through the intestines. These unusual movements may result in difficulty passing stool, or sudden, urgent elimination. Up to 20% of those who have IBS report untimely passage of stool. Some individuals with IBS may also experience straining to pass stool along with a feeling of incomplete evacuation (tenesmus) and immense relief of pain/discomfort when gas or stool finally passes. A stringy substance (mucus) may cover the stool.
Individuals might have different combinations of symptoms, with one symptom dominating while the other digestive symptoms occur more randomly and unpredictably. These bowel experiences and their unpredictability can lead to a high degree of anxiety for the IBS patient. Stool consistency may vary enormously, ranging from entirely liquid to being so firm and separated that it resembles small pebbles. External factors, such as stress, can affect stool consistency. IBS has different sub-groups, which are associated with stool consistency.
- IBS-D is when the digestive system contracts quickly, transiting products of digestion rapidly through the digestive tract, resulting in frequent, watery bowel movements (diarrhoea).
- IBS-C is when the digestive system contracts slowly, delaying transit time for products of digestion, resulting in hard, difficult to pass, infrequent stools (constipation).
- IBS-M is when the transit time throughout the digestive tract fluctuates, causing patients to experience a mix of both diarrhoea and constipation, often alternating between the two. These extreme stool consistencies can sometimes even occur within the same bowel movement.
Intestinal pain can occur when material in one section of the gut passes through slowly while material in another section passes through quickly. These simultaneous actions can produce bowel movements alternating between constipation and diarrhoea, sometimes even within the same bowel movement. In addition, prolonged contractions of the bowel might prevent the normal passage of air and trigger bloating, belching, and flatulence. Bloating could become so severe that clothing feels tighter and abdominal swelling becomes visible to others.
Pain manifests in many ways with IBS. It can be ongoing or episodic, present sharply and resolve rapidly, occur occasionally or frequently, and move from one location in the bowel to another very quickly. Digestive pain often occurs following a meal and can last for hours. Those who have IBS tend to have a quicker and more intense reaction to digestive tract pain stimuli than do those who do not have IBS. Results of a survey we conducted – with 2,961 qualified respondents – showed that there is a wide range of pain levels among those who have IBS. When rating the severity level of pain experienced at some point during the past three months, 39% said their abdominal pain was mild, 53% said it was moderate, and 31% said it was severe. Only 4% of survey respondents did not experience abdominal pain in the past three months. Additionally, more than 62% of those with IBS indicate that their pain continued after bowel movements.
If you would like to find out more about my London IBS hypnosis sessions click here.