IBS is a very common condition affecting as many as one in five British adults. In her new book, Dr Dawn’s Guide to Healthy Eating for IBS, Dawn Harper answers a number of frequently asked questions:
Is IBS a lifelong condition?
About 20 per cent of the population have IBS at any one time but actually around one in ten sufferers each year will notice their symptoms have subsided. It isn’t a condition that we cure as such but just because your symptoms are interfering with your life now, that doesn’t mean it will always be so. Most people notice periods when their symptoms improve for weeks, months or even years and some find their symptoms disappear completely.
Are there any long-term complications of IBS?
People often worry about a possible link between IBS and bowel cancer, for example, but there is no evidence that there is any link here. Sometimes I meet people who have developed depression as a result of their IBS but that is because they have been really dragged down by symptoms and, hopefully, after reading this book you won’t be one of them!
Is lactose intolerance linked to IBS?
Lactose intolerance and IBS are separate conditions. One doesn’t cause the other but it is possible to have the two conditions at the same time.
Can IBS cause rectal bleeding?
IBS can cause constipation which in turn can cause haemorrhoids or an anal fissure (a tear in the delicate skin around the anus). Both of these can cause fresh rectal bleeding but IBS itself does not so blood in the stools should always be checked out by a doctor. It is usually something simple like piles or a tear but bleeding from the back passage can be caused by a cancer so should never be ignored.
What is post-infectious IBS?
Post-infectious IBS was first described after the Second World War when soldiers were returning from war having had bacterial dysentery. It has since become a well-recognized condition and has been described following infections with campylobacter, salmonella and shigella. Interestingly, it is uncommon after viral gut infections and generally occurs after a bacterial infection. The good news is that 50 per cent of people recover without the need of treatment.
Dr Dawn’s Guide to Healthy Eating for IBS is out now.