IBS: A Bermuda Triangle of a Diagnosis

Copyright Jen Evans   Even our cat has been diagnosed with IBS

Copyright Jen Evans Even our cat has been diagnosed with IBS

Being diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is tantamount to a doctor telling you that you have been poisoned, but refusing to say what the poison is and if there is an antidote. A bowel can be irritated for any number if reasons, from the mildest of food allergies to severe disorders that require dedicated medical care, so telling you it’s irritable is just confirming a symptom. What about the root cause? What about treating that root cause? What about preventative care?

My experience of NHS GPs and Gastro consultants has sadly been pretty bad, with all of the doctors I’ve seen attributing my symptoms to the epidemic of IBS that seems to have hit our generation hard. A few have prescribed antispasmodics like Peppermint Oil (none of which had any effect), others just told me to cut out the foods that were ‘irritating’. Not exactly wildly helpful.

Not one doctor asked me what I ate, what my lifestyle was like, or if there were any other symptoms that occurred when the IBS flared up. Rigorous scientific exploration, this is not.

So, my point, and I do have one, is that if you have been given a ‘diagnosis’ of IBS, you are still no wiser about the cause of your problems. My two pennies of advice is this: seek as much testing as you can from your NHS doctors, to rule out things like e.g. Coeliacs or Crohns disease etc, and if you are still no wiser as to the cause of your bowel problems, look further afield for help. Nutritionists and private doctors can help diagnose problems through tests not available on the NHS. You can only get better if you know what the problem is.

That’s not to say all NHS doctors are rubbish and dismissive of bowel problems, there are some very good ones out there with a breadth of knowledge and understanding of disorders that the NHS traditionally has not recognised or is not funded to treat. They exist but they are in short supply, and as we are usually restricted to those available in our geographical location, it’s pot luck. The majority of people I have spoken to have had big problems with GPs – mainly that they just don’t have the breadth of knowledge in the field.

The answers are out there. Don’t accept anything less than the answers that will help you to get better and stay better. Alright? Alright.

Rant over. The term ‘IBS’ is now well and truly in Paul Merton’s Room 101.

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