Do I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
What are the signs and symptoms of IBS in males and females?
Whilst symptoms are very variable and individual, commonly reported symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain and abnormal bowel habits
- Wind, bloating and/or distension
- Passing of mucus when opening bowels
- Diarrhoea and/or constipation IBS is also strongly linked to our mental health and clients regularly describe lethargy and ‘brainfog’.
Other symptoms include heartburn, reflux and nausea. Whilst commonly associated with IBS, please speak with your GP if you are suffering with any of the following symptoms, often referred to in the medical world as ‘red flags’:
- Persistent change of bowel habit for 4 weeks or longer, especially if you are over the age of 40
- Loss of blood from the back passage
- Unintentional and unexplained weight loss
- Loose stools and diarrhoea waking you from sleep
- High temperature
- Family history of bowel cancer or ovarian cancer
There is no definitive diagnosis method for IBS and a diagnosis is often given once other conditions have been ruled out, for example, Coeliac Disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Your GP will likely complete some tests including a full blood count, blood test check for anaemia, check for signs of inflammation, for example, CRP or faecal calprotectin (stool sample to rule out Inflammatory Bowel Disease) and complete a Coeliac Screen which involves checking levels of TtG Antibodies in the blood.
A diagnosis of IBS will be considered if a person reports having any of the following symptoms for at least 6 months:
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Change in bowel habit
If you are suffering with these symptoms, do get in touch with your GP and ask to speak with a dietitian.
Please read to save money!!!
DO NOT waste your money on food intolerance testing such as hair analysis testing, Electrodermal or Kinesiology as there is NO scientific evidence to support their use to diagnose a food intolerance or food allergy. I have seen hundreds of people who have spent money on such tests and are unnecessarily restricting many foods from their diet. The only way a food intolerance can be diagnosed is via an elimination diet, best followed with the advice and support of a dietitian.
Treatment and self help strategies
IBS symptoms can be triggered by a combination of foods in our diet and lifestyle including erratic meal patterns, stress and poor sleep. With the right information you CAN take back some control over your gut health and bowel symptoms. You do not need to automatically remove gluten and dairy free (and instantly see your food bill sky rocket!). With some simple diet and lifestyle changes you can get some great results.
Below are some simple tips to get started with:
- Limit known common dietary triggers in your diet including alcohol, caffeine (limit to 3 cups a day), spicy foods, fatty foods and fizzy drinks.
- Avoid missing meals and aim to eat regularly, ensuring you chew your food well and slowly.
- Limit processed foods and takeaways.
- If suffering with constipation, aim to increase your fluid and fibre intake, namely soluble fibre such as oats.
- If suffering with diarrhoea, then look to reduce your intake of fibre and sorbitol/Xylitol containing products such as sugar free sweets.
- Ensure you are drinking enough fluids, aiming for between 1500-3000mls (depending on your age and weight).
- There is evidence that specific strains of probiotics can reduce symptoms.
If you want to discuss a personalised nutrition plan for your IBS, please contact me to make an appointment –
email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you, and we can set up a time for a conversation.