Tag Archives: ulcerative colitis
It’s my stomach, it’s bloated and painful I must have irritable bowel syndrome!
It’s becoming “in” to have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Everybody is talking about it, there are special diets, pills and all sorts of treatments to cure it but one has to ask in the first instance; is it actually IBS?
Our clinic sees a lot of IBS and would be IBS cases. People find their way to us because many conventional measures just offer symptomatic ease at best. Most GP’s don’t follow the idea that diet or food allergy can be a cause opting, to prescribe medications simply aimed at relaxing the bowel. I feel their time should be spent trying to relax their patient since so many cases of true IBS are stress related or anxiety induced. However, the fact remains that IBS is affecting more and more of us. Estimates have IBS affecting 10-20% of the population and it is twice as common in women than in men. This estimate, however, does not take into account those cases who do not present themselves to their GP.
The worrying factor with IBS is that many of it’s symptoms are common to other more serious gut and abdominal disorders. In women early stage ovarian cancer may give symptoms of bloating or even just a feeling of “fullness”. Even though ovarian cancer tends to hit the over 65’s it can strike at any age. The other worry is that IBS may also mimic early stage inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. These bowel problems may not cause the classic set of inflammatory signs early on and can be mistaken for IBS, which is not a pathological problem at all. Cases of true IBS are free of pathological bowel changes, it general is a functional disorder of muscular tone triggered off by emotional distress or aggravated by foods that irritate the lining of the bowel.
Getting a diagnosis of IBS should be fairly straight forward now. Worries over ovarian cancer can be settled by a good medical history may be a pelvic ultrasound scan and in some cases a simple blood test for the marker known as CA125. When it comes to the inflammatory bowel problems things may get a bit more invasive in those cases that are not so clear cut. A colonoscopy involves inserting a fiber optic camera into the bowel for a good look about. This tends to be very diagnostic but in those with inflammatory changes beyond the reach of the camera the inflammation may be missed. However, help is at hand. A relatively new stool (pooh) analysis, pioneered at Kings College Hospital, taken along side a clinical assessment looks to be the way forward. Known as faecal calprotectin, (click here 1, 2, 3, for more background) this test will detect those cases missed by colonoscopy and help firm up the diagnosis once and for all. It is available through the NHS or for a private fee of around £70-£80. We can get the test done through Hadley Wood Healthcare for £75.00 – all we need it a pooh sample, but call us first.
Once irritable bowel has been confirmed there is a lot we can do. A course of enteric coated Acidophilus and Bifidus bacteria replacement therapy (known as Acidophilus Pearls) is important along side some simple dietary changes. Anxiety and stress need to be addressed, for this we use Elthea-100 containing the green tea amino acid known as L-theanine. A lot can be done but much of our work is on an individual basis. If you are troubled by your bowels we may be able to help in more ways than one.