Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome is an incredibly common condition affecting the gastro-intestinal tract. It is often diagnosed by using a set of criteria called “Rome criteria”, which define irritable bowel syndrome as: recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort at least 3 days per month in the last 3 months, associated with two or more of the following:

  • Improvement with defaecation; and
  • Onset associated with a change in frequency of stool; and
  • Onset associated with a change in form (appearance) of stool

It is more important that you are thoroughly assessed to rule out other common causes of very similar symptoms. The conditions that your Gastroenterologist will need to rule out include rectal prolapse; rectocele; rectal dyssynergy (anal rectal dysfunction such as pelvic floor dyssynergy, obstructed defecation and spastic pelvic floor muscles); Lactose and Fructose mal-absorption.

A careful and thorough history would also help exclude the diagnosis of endometriosis in patients in their 20-30s. Common causes of abdominal bloating and Coeliac Disease should also be excluded. It is important to point out that patients who are constipated above the age of 50 should undergo further endoscopic to ensure there is no sinister pathology low in the rectum or obstructing lesions in other parts of the large bowel. Talk to your Gastroenterologist about the use of medications as well as the strategies to help improve pain and discomfort.

 

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