What is IBS?

IBS is a common condition that affects the digestive system.

The colon consists of ascending colon (right), transverse colon, descending colon (left) and sigmoid colon which empties into the rectum. The muscles of the colon work by peristalsis – a wave of contraction moving along the gut. Food digest enters caecum and the ascending colon via the ileo-caecal valve which is normally closed.  When a peristaltic wave reaches this point the valve opens briefly.  This valve also opens when food empties from the stomach, which is known as the gastro-colic reflex. .

The transit time for the food to reach the caecum is usually about 4 hours and to the colon up to 8 hours.  A test meal may often be found in the rectum some 72 hours later after initial ingestion.

What are the Symptoms of IBS?

It causes symptoms like stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. These tend to come and go over time, and can last for days, weeks or months at a time.  These symptoms are often an exaggeration of normal physiology.

What are the Causes of IBS?

The exact cause is unknown. It has been linked to food passing through the gut too quickly or too slowly, oversensitive nerves in the gut, stress, and a family history of IBS.

In almost all cases the symptoms can be related to long term stress, anxiety, or some family related problem.

How Long Does IBS last?

It’s usually a lifelong problem. It can be very frustrating to live with and can have a big impact on your everyday life.

How to Manage IBS

There is no cure, but diet changes and medicines can often help control your symptoms.  Dietary advice includes limiting foods to bland foods during attacks and avoiding cabbage, turnips, coffee, alcohol and tobacco completely.

Dietary change has not been shown to be effective in the actual prevention of IBS attacks.

Hypnotherapy and in particular gut directed therapy can sometimes be prescribed since it has been shown to be very effective in controlled trials. However, the NHS patient waiting times are currently very long.

How Can I Help You?

In the initial review, we will examine when your symptoms first appeared, what exacerbates them, the severity of the symptoms and the impact on your life. We will also look at previous treatment, current medication, and any warning symptoms and related problems.

In my experience people with IBS respond rapidly to hypnotherapy. Whilst three practitioner-led sessions are all that are normally required, continual self-hypnosis is advised.