Gastroenterology and hepatology > Irritable bowel syndrome

  • Irritable bowel syndrome is a very common condition caused by abnormal contractions of the muscles in the large intestine and increased sensitivity of the bowel to the presence of gas and movement. It appears to be made worse by stress.
  • Symptoms include recurring, cramp-like or colicky abdominal pain and irregular bowel movements, from diarrhoea to constipation.
  • The symptoms are not usually severe, and may disappear without treatment for periods ranging from days to years.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome can usually be diagnosed without specialized investigations, but if there is any doubt, the colon can be examined using barium enema or colonoscopy.
  • Modifying your diet can relieve symptoms. There are no specific foods that make irritable bowel syndrome worse in everyone, though diets containing very large quantities of roughage (fibre) may increase susceptibility to abdominal bloating and wind. Ususally, patients adjust their diet according to their own experiences or with help from dieticians.
  • If symptoms persist, your doctor may prescribe bulking agents, or else tablets that alter the movement of the bowel, prevent muscle spasm or reduce the bowel’s sensitivity to the presence of gas and to muscle movements.


Other recommended information for patients - irritable bowel syndrome