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The ABC of IBS


One of my main motivations behind investing 6 years in university to become a registered dietitian is to be able to help more people with gut health issues, in an official capacity. Over the years I have helped multiple people with gut health problems improve their quality of life. Investing my personal time and money in learning more about gut health from the worlds leading research team to ensure the service and knowledge I provide is absolutely the best possible.


The issue with gut health is that it is still an area of science which is not fully understood.


One of those area is IBS.


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a functional bowel disease which affects up to 15% of the world’s population and about 1 in 10 in the UK.


IBS is more common in women than men and often diagnosed before the age of 50.


Causes


The cause of IBS is unknown however it is likely to be more than just one factor. Some of the proposed factors which may lead to IBS include:


  • Altered gastrointestinal motility (slower or faster moving digestion)

  • Inflammation

  • Hypersensitivity in the visceral nervous system

  • Intestinal permeability – “leaky gut”

  • Alterations in gut microbiota (gut bacteria)


Symptoms


There are many symptoms attributed to IBS including:


  • Abdominal pain

  • Change in bowel habit (constipation, diarrhoea or a combination of both)

  • Bloating (the feeling of having a balloon in your belly)

  • Excessive wind

  • Distension (the physical increase in girth of your abdomen)


Types of IBS


There are multiple types or classifications of IBS, however there is no test available to determine which one someone may have. Instead, the common symptoms felt by the individual are used to diagnose the type of IBS.


The 4 classifications of IBS:


1. IBS-C (Constipation predominant)

2. IBS-D (Diarrhoea predominant)

3. IBS-M (Mixed bowel habits)

4. IBS-U (Unclassified)

Diagnosing IBS


Now the issue with IBS is as soon as someone feels a change in their gut habits or bloats, they automatically associate it with IBS and self-diagnose.


Even worse they go to a quack naturopath who diagnosis you with “leaky gut syndrome” and then proceeds by charging you a fortune for pseudoscience information, makes you spend your life savings on supplements that don’t work and possibly even sticks a pipe up your bum…


The very serious issue of self-diagnosis or incorrect diagnosis from a quack is that you may be ignoring a much more serious, underlying issue such as:


  • Coeliac disease

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease e.g. Crohns

  • Intestinal / colon cancer

  • Hormone disorders

  • Endometriosis


To be sure of a correct diagnosis it is key to go to your GP for a full blood count test to determine whether it is any of the above.

If results come back negative, then IBS is more likely.


As I stated before, there is no test to 100% confirm you have IBS however they use symptoms to determine it via the Rome IV criteria.


The ABC System


There is a ABC system to help simplify an IBS diagnosis.

This system is here to help you determine whether you should go to your GP and request a full blood count, it is NOT to be used as a self-diagnostic tool.

A – Abdominal pain on at least one day per week for 3 months or more

PLUS either one or both of the following for a minimum of 6 months

B – Bloating

C – Change in bowel habits (frequency of going or consistency of stool)

If you tick the boxes above, you should make an appointment with your GP.


If the results come back without a diagnosis for the likes of coeliac or an IBD then IBS will be assumed.


Now don’t expect ground-breaking support from the GP or NHS in regard to IBS, I have heard of many people just being handed a leaflet and off you go.


If you have been told you have IBS, you are struggling with managing it and it is affecting the quality of your day to day life then to get the best, evidence based support possible I would strongly recommend you speak to myself, someone who has vast experience helping those with IBS or you seek a gut health specialist dietitian.


IBS Client Testimonial


“I recently sat down with Adam after suffering with IBS for many years, knowing he was interested in IBS and gut health I knew he would be the one to help me.


We sat down and went through all my symptoms and I told him I was under a consultant at the hospital and that I have tried many things, but I still had regular flare ups and didn’t really seem to be getting any better.


We had a very lengthy conversation and he guided me into different things to watch for in my diet and things potentially to avoid. He went on to discuss FODMAPs.


I actually got more advice and help in the few meetings I had with Adam than I’ve had from the hospital over the years.


Since meeting with Adam and changing my lifestyle with exercise and food and following his fantastic advice I’ve had very few flare ups and feel great in myself.


He really does know his stuff and is very good at explaining in detail different things, so you understand.


Thank you for all your help and advice Adam.”


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