Irritable bowel: The disorder that "prefers" women - What a Greek expert says

Irritable bowel

Mr Theodosios Parhas Gastroenterologist, Director of the First Gastroenterology Clinic of Metropolitan General, talks about irritable bowel syndrome, presenting the symptoms, the diagnosis and the appropriate treatment of the frequent disorder, also known as spastic colitis.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is quite common and occurs mainly in adults, at a rate of 10-20% in Western countries, with a higher frequency in the female population.

It is also known as spastic colitis, a functional bowel disorder characterised by the absence of any organic disease, i.e. all tests are normal.

Symptoms of IBS:

The main symptoms are the following:
– Episodes of abdominal pain, which usually subsides with bowel movement
– ​​Flatulence – Abdominal distention
– Diarrhea, Constipation or their alternations
– Urgency of bowel movement
– ​​Feeling of incomplete emptying of the bowel and the presence of mucus in the stool

Based on the symptoms, four types of the syndrome can be distinguished:

  • IBS with diarrhea
  • IBS with constipation
  • Mixed type with alternating discharges
  • Indeterminate type where symptoms vary

Factors that trigger IBS flares:

  • Periods of intense stress, intense physical and psychological fatigue
  • Depressive episode
  • In women, due to hormonal changes, symptoms may appear more strongly on certain days of the period.
  • Diet also plays a key role, as well as intolerance to certain foods

Quite often, it can appear for the first time even after a simple episode of gastroenteritis, and the patient seeks the help of the doctor because he thinks he has some kind of germ.

What tests should someone with symptoms have?

The patient who shows symptoms on his first visit to the doctor will undergo some basic tests, possibly blood and stool tests.

If there are findings, then it will not be IBS but some other condition where further tests will be needed.

Colonoscopy should be performed for people over 45 years of age as well as in people with iron deficiency anemia, microscopic blood loss from the digestive tract (Mayer stool), macroscopic blood loss from the digestive tract, significant weight loss, persistent abdominal pain and persistent disorders of the voiding.

Are there tests for food intolerance?

To date, the only reliable test for intolerance is testing for celiac disease - that is, gluten intolerance - which can be done through a blood test or with a gastroscopy and biopsy from the duodenum.

Lactose intolerance varies from region to region and can range from only 5% in Northern Europe to 50% in Mediterranean countries.

Is there a cure, what should someone with IBS do?

First, it is very important for the person suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome to realise that they are not in danger and that they do not have a disease. It is a good thing that during times when we are stressed, we should be very careful with our diet, as even a piece of chocolate can make a difference.

We should observe what bothers us and what doesn't because even healthy foods can cause us symptoms. Daily exercise of 15-20 minutes a day helps a lot, and finally, we should find ways to reduce stress.

Mr. Theodosios Parhas is a Gastroenterologist and Curator of the 1st Gastroenterology Clinic of the Metropolitan General.

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