National IBS awareness month

25 April 2014

As April is National Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness month, Spire Harpenden Hospital and Dr Nasser Khan wanted to discuss IBS including the symptoms and possible treatments.

What is IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects up to one in five adults. It is a condition that is characterised by symptoms including abdominal pain, wind, bloating, and changed bowel habit (ranging from diarrhoea to constipation). Symptoms can often be debilitating and lead to a reduced quality of life.

Spire consultant gastroenterologist Dr Nasser Khan has a special interest in IBS and other functional bowel disorders. In order to mark National IBS Awareness Month, Dr Khan has put together some information about two new treatments available due to new research into IBS, which will be of interest to anyone who has IBS-type symptoms.

Low FODMAP diets

A number of therapies have been used to control IBS symptoms including medications, bulking agents and laxatives, as well as lifestyle changes. Most individuals with IBS believe that their symptoms are related to the consumption of certain foods, but advice in this area has been conflicting, offering little reassurance for IBS sufferers.

An Australian research team has developed a new approach to dietary management to control symptoms associated with IBS: the Low FODMAP diet. They have produced strong evidence that a group of short-chain carbohydrates, named FODMAPs, are problematic for those with IBS. They are not well absorbed in the small intestine and quickly ferment due to bacteria in the gut.

A Low FODMAP diet can be tailored to meet an individual’s lifestyle and preferences. The Low FODMAP approach does not cure IBS, but allows patients to successfully manage their symptoms through diet.

Treating IBS with antibiotics

Recent evidence is beginning to suggest that patients with IBS may have excessive bacteria in their small bowel, referred to as bacterial overgrowth. Therefore there may be benefits of antibiotic-based therapies for IBS.  

Dr Nasser Khan

Spire consultant gastroenterologist Dr Nasser Khan has a special interest in IBS as well as other bowel disorders. He can help you by carrying out investigations including blood tests, X-ray based tests and endoscopy (when appropriate). Using these, he can confirm a diagnosis, which involves excluding other possible conditions such as coeliac disease and inflammatory bowel disease. Dr Khan knows the importance of patient education which can provide reassurance, as well as allowing you to take ownership of your condition. He can provide further information about specific therapies such as dietary management, drug therapy, and advice about complementary and alternative treatments.

Dr Khan is available at Spire Harpenden Hospital every Wednesday afternoon and has endoscopy lists on alternate Wednesdays.

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