Do you ever get that feeling of being bloated or have changes in your bowel habits? Have you, (like many people here) ever experienced diarrhoea with somewhat watery stools and even undigested food? Do you sometimes suffer from constipation with pellet-like stools, do you ever hear your intestines working away after mealtime, and does any particular type of food trigger the symptoms? You could even just be having tummy discomfort with good days and bad….

If you’re fed up, don’t know why these symptoms are happening or if you find they’re impacting you for the worse, then one thing’s for sure – you’re not alone!

Perhaps it comes as a surprise that like many people in Dubai, you might well be suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (or IBS as it’s commonly referred to), a condition which can provoke any or all of these symptoms, often affecting healthy, productive young adults.

Funnily enough, the cause of IBS has not yet been fully understood but changes in the gut flora (the “good bacteria” you find in your intestines) plays a very important role, as does the intestinal nervous system. These changes can be triggered by antibiotic treatments you’ve taken in the past, or even food poisoning, or it can even be brought on by stress, as well as several other factors. The important thing of course is to get to the bottom of what’s going on with you!

IBS  is a clinical diagnosis. Physicians, such as the highly regarded Gastroenterologist Dr Regina Will of King’s College Hospital London Dubai can make a diagnosis with high accuracy based on your background, the symptoms you have and a physical exam.

Some of these basic investigations will no doubt reassure you and your Doctor including conducting stool tests for parasites, (like Giardia that’s commonly contracted in Dubai) and a microscopic exam of your stools and an ultrasound of the abdomen and pelvis. So called “alarm symptoms” (such as continuous severe diarrhoea, vomiting, severe weight loss, or blood in your stool) are not typical for IBS and will require a full workup.

Once a diagnosis of IBS is made, treatment can be started relatively easily and will lead to improvement in how you’re feeling. Treatment is multimodal and includes education about the condition itself, dietary advice to help you, as well as regular exercise, stress management techniques and medication. Dr Regina Will is known for spending time to explain the condition in detail to her patients as well as the treatment options, guiding them through the process and answering questions.

Depending on the pattern or your specific disease, medication recommendations might include a probiotic, antidiarrheal agents, fiber supplements and medications that relieve cramp-like pain. A diet that’s low in bloating substances (that’s referred to as low FODMAP) is often recommendable and will mean that you’re unlikely to make the mistake of being too restrictive in your food choices. It’s also important to know that food allergy tests are not useful in a large majority of cases, despite what you might hear.

Learning to manage the symptoms of IBS, and not to let them control your activities is key and often symptoms disappear altogether.

However, it’s not to be under-estimated that symptoms can be serious and affect any sufferer’s daily life and mood. If that’s the case despite treatment, go back to your Doctor, or seek out expert help from the best in the business as Dr Regina Will will find further treatment options that’ll have you feeling a whole lot better again.

Read more: 

The truths of being a British mum in Dubai

Which expat tribe are you?

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