Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
IBS is an extremely common condition and is a collection of symptoms that result in a long term condition of the digestive system. The symptoms can include bloating, constipation and/or diarrhoea, stomach cramps, trapped wind and pain amongst others.
Symptoms can vary from each person and in each episode. There is no known cause but stress and diet are thought to play an important role. IBS is believed to affect up to one in five people at some point in their life and usually first occurs between the ages of 20 and 30 years. Around twice as many women are affected as men.
A short term or long term condition in which stools pass less often than usual or are hard, dry and painful or difficult to pass. Bowel habits vary, but an adult is considered constipated if they have not passed stools for three days or for a child for four days.
According to the NHS choices website, it’s estimated that around one in every seven adults and up to one in every three children in the UK has constipation at any one time. The condition affects twice as many women as men and is also more common in older adults and during pregnancy.
Symptoms of constipation can occur because of a poor or change in diet, lack of exercise, not enough water and ignoring the urge to go to the toilet. It can also be the result of certain medication. In children, a fear of going to the toilet can be a common cause.
Diarrhoea is a condition in which faeces are discharged from the bowels frequently and in a liquid form. This can be distressing and highly impractical for those who suffer. Diarrhoea can have many causes but a common cause is gastroenteritis caused by an infection. It can also be caused by stress, certain foods and IBS.
For many, diarrhoea clears up after a few days. The biggest risk is dehydration especially in babies, children and elderly. Keeping hydrated with plenty of water is very important. Oral rehydration salts can help treat symptoms of diarrhoea and replace any lost water and salts.