What is IBS?
What are the symptoms?
- Abdominal pain or discomfort – which can be worse after eating and improves when you go to the toilet
- Bloating – your abdomen feels swollen, ‘tight’ or full
- Constipation – straining to pass stools, feeling like you haven’t finished, stools are hard and dry. This is known as constipation predominant IBS or IBS-C
- Diarrhoea – loose or watery stools and a sudden urge to go. This is known as diarrhoea predominant IBS or IBS-D
What causes IBS?
- We can X-ray the bowel and see its structure but can’t visualise how the bowel moves in an easy way
- The bowel is erratic, we can’t predict when it will move, so assessment would have to be over many hours and this is rarely possible
- IBS is not just one disease, it is a set of symptoms which may be caused by several factors interacting
- It is not possible to study the muscle and nerves in the bowel without a full thickness biopsy which is invasive and painful and risks complications
Why is research so important?
- The cause of a disease i.e. what goes wrong in the body
- The links between a disease and other diseases or lifestyle choices
- How to best diagnose diseases
- How to care for populations of patients with a certain illness
- How to develop pathways of care
- How to treat, reduce or even cure symptoms or a disease
- How to prevent an illness