Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The IBS Series: What is IBS?

Following on from the indroduction and disclaimer to this series that I posted last week (which you can read here) I thought I'd kick start the series with a brief bit of info on IBS and a sort of fact file on my IBS just so we all know where we're starting from! This may get linked in future posts too if the info in here is relevant to what I'm discussing. I struggled with how best to get down all the relevant info and I think this is probably the simplest.

What is IBS

 Taken from the NHS website: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common, long-term condition of the digestive system. It can cause bouts of stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation. The symptoms vary between individuals and affect some people more severely than others. They tend to come and go in periods lasting a few days to a few months at a time, often during times of stress or after eating certain foods. The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but most experts think that it's related to increased sensitivity of the gut and problems digesting food. There is no cure for IBS, but the symptoms can often be managed by making changes to your diet and lifestyle.

 My IBS

IBS Type: IBS with constipation. Typically this type of IBS comes with stomach pain and discomfort, bloating and obviously constipation.
Timeline of diagnosis: In early 2011 after suffering with a complication that I now was caused by IBS (though it is a little to personal even for me to go into details) and making numerous trips to the doctors since December 2010 I was finally diagnosed with IBS. After being diagnosed I eventually ended up being referred to a colorectal specialist (getting glamorous here now aren't we!) for surgery for the afore mentioned complication. This happened in July 2011, I was then referred back to the specialist in October 2011 for a colonoscopy to check for Crohn's disease. This was all in my university town. In between the surgery and the colonoscopy I also had blood tests at my doctors in my home town.
Triggers: The main ones I've found so far are large amounts of greasy food and alcohol.
Symptoms: Bloating, cramps, nausea, fatigue, constipation and stomach gurgles. Of course I don't get all of these at the same time and I don't have all of these all the time. They come and go and some days are worse than others. The main symptom for me is the constipation though over recent months the cramps, bloating and nausea have become a little more prominent than they were.
 Medication: Movicol drinks - 1 or 2 a day depending on how I'm feeling. I have had around 3 or 4 other types of medication both over the counter and prescription that weren't working for me though previous to trying the things I'm on now. I've being taken the Movicol/Laxido drinks for over 3 and a half years.

So as you can see it wasn't a particularly quick diagnosis and it took a while to find the right medication that worked for me. In my case I had to make numerous trips to the doctors to be diagnosed and I often felt like I wasn't receiving much help or information, I had to find out a lot of things for myself. The doctor who finally prescribed the drinks was extremely helpful and gave me lots of information as well as ordering the blood tests which is something no other doctor had even suggested. My advice is if you find a good and helpful doctor, stick with them for future appointments.

From here on in I'm probably going to post a little less often in this series but the info will always be here if any one should ever need it. I'll be covering a whole host of topics within IBS and living with a chronic illness. If there is anything in particular you would like to see in this series or you have any question then please leave a comment or email me (my email can be found in the side bar near the top).

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