Irritable bowel symptoms

Irritable bowel syndrome, or ‘IBS’, is by far the commonest cause found for patients referred to the gastroenterology clinic for abdominal symptoms.  It is a benign condition, but can result in chronic and uncomfortable symptoms.  Typical symptoms are:

  • Abdominal discomfort which is usually alleviated with bowel motions
  • Change in bowel habit towards diarrhoea, constipation or alternating between both

However, symptoms can overlap with more serious conditions, including coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease or bowel cancer.

In young people without worrying symptoms, often only a blood test, ultrasound scan or occasionally a flexible sigmoidoscopy test are all that are required to exclude more serious disease.  In others, more investigations including a colonscopy or CT scan might be required.

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