If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, you’ll often have abdominal complaints and problems with your stools. You may have pain in several places in your abdomen. A syndrome means you suffer from complaints which occur together.
Irritable bowel syndrome may result in symptoms like:
- Pain in your abdomen. The severity can vary from person to person. For example, one person may feel bloated and someone else may suffer from severe cramps.
- Pain in different and varying places in your abdomen.
- Changing stools. For example, you may suffer from diarrhoea, constipation or a variety of both.
- Pain in your abdomen.
- Pain in your oesophagus.
- Irritation or pain when urinating.
- Difficulty urinating.
- Back pain.
- Muscle pain.
- Joint complaints.
The symptoms may lessen once you’ve eaten or gone to the toilet. The duration of the symptoms can vary a great deal. So you could suffer from it for a longer period of time, or maybe have very few symptoms at other times. Plus these periods can alternate too and make a regular comeback.
If you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, we recommend you:
- Talk to your GP if you’re worried about the symptoms. The symptoms can worsen during periods of unrest.
- Don’t avoid the everyday and fun things. Share it with people you trust, ask if there’s a toilet and/or gently build up visiting people and gatherings.
- Avoid stress. Stress can make the symptoms worse.
- Eat healthily and regularly. For example, stick to three meals a day. It’s also important to get plenty of fibre from vegetables and fruit. Consult a dietician to plan a varied diet.
- Make sure you get plenty of exercise. Build this up gently, but don’t stop the moment you feel an initial abdominal cramp. Find out what’s comfortable for you. You could simply start with walking, for example.
- Take any prescribed medication.
You should contact your GP if:
- You have, or suspect you have, irritable bowel syndrome. You can then discuss how things are going with your GP and work out a plan together. Your GP may also prescribe medication and refer you to a dietician or a psychologist.
- Call your GP practice immediately if you have one of the following symptoms:
- You have blood or mucus in your stool.
- Your stool pattern suddenly changes and/or is not what’s normal for you.
- You suddenly start losing weight for no clear reason.
These last symptoms are not associated with irritable bowel syndrome. So there may be something else going on.