The NHS recommends keeping a diary of what you eat and any symptoms you get, then trying to avoid anything that looks like it’s triggering your symptoms

Other things that may be involved in IBS include the following:

• Overactivity of the nerves of the digestive system, which may be partly caused by stress or emotional upset.

• Oversensitivity to pain, since people with IBS feel more pain when their gut is expanded than those who don’t have IBS.

• Food intolerances (though this is thought to be rare).

• Bacteria in the gut (in some cases symptoms of IBS seem to follow a bout of gastroenteritis – an infection that causes diarrhoea and vomiting). In such cases, diarrhoea tends to be the main IBS symptom.

• Having a family history of IBS.

How is it treated? If your GP thinks you have IBS they may do some tests to rule out other conditions such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, coeliac disease or a stomach infection, since these all have symptoms that can be confused with IBS. Otherwise there is no test to confirm

a diagnosis of IBS, and the condition is usually confirmed if you have the typical symptoms. If you do have IBS, your treatment

will depend on the symptoms you’re experiencing, as there’s no single treatment that works for everyone with the condition.

To treat IBS with bloating, wind and cramps Your local Careway pharmacist can advise you about medicines you may find helpful, such as over-the-counter medicines that help control stomach cramps and peppermint oil.

To treat IBS with diarrhoea Ask your pharmacist to recommend over-the-counter medicines that may help relieve diarrhoea, such as a medicine that contains an ingredient called loperamide.

To treat IBS with constipation Your pharmacist can also advise you about medicines that can help with constipation called laxatives.

Do certain foods affect it? Some people with IBS find certain foods can trigger their symptoms. For instance some say eating lots of fatty, spicy or processed foods may make their symptoms worse. Others may find eating a lot of fruit can trigger IBS symptoms, or drinking a lot of tea, coffee or fizzy or alcoholic drinks. The NHS recommends keeping a

diary of what you eat and any symptoms you get, then trying to avoid anything that looks like it’s triggering your symptoms. If too much fruit causes a problem, limit yourself to three portions a day. Similarly if you sometimes drink a lot of tea or coffee and find your symptoms get worse, try not to have more than three cups a day. Making adjustments to your diet

may also help you manage the following symptoms:

advice? Need If you have questions about your

health or wellbeing that you'd like to see answered in these pages, write to us at All About Health, AAH, Sapphire Court, Coventry, CV2 2TX or email

Bloating, wind and cramps According to the NHS you should avoid food products containing a sweetener called sorbitol as well as foods that are hard to digest, such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, beans, onions and dried fruit. Meanwhile try to eat oats – as in

porridge, for instance – regularly, and have up to a tablespoon of linseeds a day.

Diarrhoea To relieve diarrhoea, try cutting down on high-fibre foods such as brown bread, brown rice, nuts and seeds. Avoiding sorbitol may also be useful.

Constipation Try to eat more foods with soluble fibre, such as oats, beans, pulses, peeled potatoes and linseeds. Also try to make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, as it can make your stools softer and easier to pass.

Your local Careway pharmacist can give you lots more advice on living with IBS. Find your nearest Careway pharmacy at a-pharmacy.

All About health 23

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