Awareness Month: April








Irritable Bowel Syndrome or I.B.S. is the name doctors have given to a collection of otherwise unexplained symptoms relating to a disturbance of the colon or large intestine. It affects around a third of the population at some point in their lives and about one in ten people suffer symptoms severe enough to seek help from their GP.


The symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome may include:

  • Abdominal pain and spasms, often relieved by going to the toilet.

  • Diarrhoea, Constipation or an erratic bowel habit

  • Bloating or swelling of the abdomen.

  • Rumbling noises and excessive passage of wind.

  • Urgency (An urgent need to visit the toilet).

  • Incontinence (If a toilet is not nearby).

  • Sharp pain felt low down inside the rectum.

  • Sensation of incomplete bowel movement.

When X-rays, blood tests, endoscopies and other diagnostic tests are carried out, the results do not reveal any obvious abnormality. For that reason I.B.S. is often called 'a functional disorder' of the bowel; in other words, a disturbance in bowel function without any change in structure or obvious cause.


Symptoms frequently occur in other parts of the body. These may include; headaches, dizziness, backache, passing urine frequently, tiredness, muscle and joint pains, ringing in the ears, indigestion, belching, nausea, shortness of breath, anxiety and depression. A similar range of symptoms are reported by patients with other medically unexplained illnesses, such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, IBS and Functional Dyspepsia, suggesting they all might all be expressions of an alteration in sensitivity or irritability affecting the mind and the body.




Coeliac Disease (pronounced see-liac, spelt celiac disease in other countries) is an autoimmune disease. Gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye triggers an immune reaction in people with Coeliac Disease. This means that eating gluten damages the lining of the small intestine. Other parts of the body may be affected.


The symptoms of Coeliac Disease (spelt celiac in America) vary from person to person and can range from very mild to severe.


Possible symptoms may include:

  • diarrhoea, excessive wind, and/or constipation

  • persistent or unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting

  • recurrent stomach pain, cramping or bloating

  • any combination of iron, vitamin B12 or folic acid deficiency

  • tiredness and/or headaches

  • weight loss (but not in all cases)

  • mouth ulcers hair loss (alopecia)

  • skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis (DH))

  • tooth enamel problems

  • osteoporosis

  • depression

  • infertility

  • repeated miscarriages

  • joint and/or bone pain

  • neurological (nerve) problems such as ataxia (poor muscle co-ordination) and neuropathy (numbness and tingling in the hands and feet).

Some symptoms may be mistaken as Irritable bowel syndrome (I.B.S.) or wheat intolerance. Stress or getting older can also be a cause of confusion.


Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to be underweight or have lost weight to have Coeliac Disease. Most people are of normal weight or even overweight at diagnosis.




Diverticular disease and Diverticulitis are related digestive contacts that affect the large intestine (colon). Small bulges develop on the lining of the intestine that become inflamed or infected.  Symptoms of Diverticular disease include:

  • lower abdominal pain

  • feeling bloated

Symptoms of Diverticulitis include:

  • more severe abdominal pain

  • high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above

Diverticula is the medical term used to describe the small pouches that stick out of the side of the large intestine (colon).  It is thought the pressure of hard stools (poo) passing through the large intestine that has become weakened with age cause the pouches to form.


It is estimated that half of people have Diverticula by the time they are 50 years old, and 70% of people have them by the time they are 80 years old.


The majority of people with Diverticula will not have any symptoms; this is known as Diverticulosis.


Diverticular disease


1 in 4 people who develop Diverticula will experience symptoms such as abdominal pain.


Having symptoms associated with Diverticula is known as Diverticular disease.


Diverticulitis describes infection that occurs when bacteria becomes trapped inside one of the pouches triggering more severe symptoms.


Diverticulitis can lead to complications such as an abscess inside the intestine.




Foggy's: Alert / Help Card to hand out, if you become ill and need a toilet


IBS Network: What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome ?

IBS Network: Correct position for opening your bowels

BMJ Group: Irritable Bowel Syndrome

BMJ Group: Diverticular Disease and Diverticulitis

Core the Digestive Disorders Foundation: Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Core the Digestive Disorders Foundation: Diverticula Disease

Lactose Intolerance

Coeliac UK: Coeliac Disease

NHS Choices: The Eatwell Guide



National Support:







Free Talking Therapies:




Bath and North East Somerset (BaNes)










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