IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

A group of symptoms—including abdominal pain and changes in the pattern of bowel movements without any evidence of underlying disease.  Symptoms can be classified into four main types depending on the leading symptoms of diarrhoea or constipation  (IBS-D, IBS-C, IBS-M, or IBS-U).


Underlying cause of irritable bowel syndrome is not clearly understood, but certain factors have been found to ‘trigger’ attacks in susceptible individuals.

These include:

  • Infection – a case of gastroenteritis can leave a person with persistent bowel symptoms, even if the bacteria or virus responsible has been eradicated. A post-infectious IBS can manifest itself as diarrhoea and/or bloating.
  • Emotional stress – often anxiety or stress, can affect the nerves of the bowel in susceptible people triggering IBS.
  • Medication – certain types (such as antibiotics, antacids and painkillers) can lead to constipation or diarrhoea.
  • General diet – low-fibre diets can exacerbate the symptoms of constipation-predominant IBS (IBS-C). Some people find spicy or sugary foods cause problems. However, many experts are sceptical about the role of general diet, once specific food intolerances have been eliminated.
  • Food intolerance – impaired absorption of the sugars lactose (found in dairy and many processed foods), fructose and sorbitol are the most common dietary triggers for IBS type symptoms. These intolerances are stand – alone diagnosis and not consistent with IBS.


If you are suffering from IBS like symptoms, it is important to seek medical advice to ensure your symptoms aren’t caused by any other illness, such as food intolerances, coeliac disease, diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease or polyps.

Diagnostic methods include:

  1. Medical History – presence of symptoms ( ie. bloating, pain, bowel habits).
  2. Medical Examination – physical examination.
  3. Blood Tests – looking for anaemia, inflammation, liver disease, coeliac disease and others.
  4. Stool Tests – stool can be analysed for certain infections (e.g. bacteria or parasites) or evidence of inflammation which can be performed at Coastal Digestive Health within 20 minutes.(fecal calprotectin stool analysis).
  5. Colonoscopy – procedure completed under sedation which looks at the inside lining of the bowel. This test will help the physician identify any inflamed tissue, ulcers, bleeding or abnormal growths like polyps.  Biopsies may also need to be taken, which will be sent to pathology to help further determine various diseases.
  6. Gastroscopy – procedure completed under sedation which looks at the inside lining of the examines the esophagus, stomach and the first part of the small bowel, known as the duodenum, from which biopsies are taken to look for evidence of malabsorption or coeliac disease.
  7. Hydrogen Breath Testing – Tests for food intolerances. It measure whether your intestines are able to digest and absorb various food components including lactose, sucrose or fructose, and can also test whether there is “bacterial overgrowth” in your small bowel.