By Sara Millbank

What is it?

It is a bowel disorder which affects the intestinal areas.

The bad news is that this is a long term condition, but the good news is that it is completely manageable. As it has been categorised as a syndrome, IBS receives very little recognition.

What are the symptoms?

The main symptoms are abdominal pain, diarrhoea and/or constipation, bloating, mucus in the stools and a feeling that you have not completely emptied your bowels.

Rhythmical tightening and relaxation of segments of the intestine are another symptom along with bowels being very noisy, rapid transit of food and burping or excessive gases. In most cases bad breathe, headaches and tiredness are also signs of IBS along with pain felt in the lower left corner of the four corners of the abdomen. Symptoms are usually brought on by eating and are relieved by the sufferer going to the toilet. Symptoms can change from mild to severe, back to mild, but IBS does not lead to more serious diseases.

Who gets it?

Most sufferers are commonly affected between the ages of 20 to 30 years of age and it is very rare in children. For some reason, women are twice as likely as men to be affected by IBS and there is no oblivious cause. It is believed that the actual figures of people who suffer from IBS is much higher than 60% because most people have a mild form and don’t seek medical help.


There are no obvious causes for IBS, although research has shown that a period of emotional stress can bring it on. Also symptoms worsened when sufferers were in stressful situations, but again no medial link was found.

How is it treated?

Once diagnosed, IBS is best controlled with immediate changes in the sufferer’s diet. Fatty and spicy foods are removed, along with gas producing vegetables such as beans. There has not been a lot of research into IBS, but good results were found by reducing alcohol, eliminating caffeine and drinking plenty of water. In extreme cases, doctors found that removing wheat produces and cow’s milk from sufferer’s diet had immediate effect. Also in extreme cases, antispasmodic drugs were given and helped to slow down the contractions in the bowels.