Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

This is a common functional gastrointestinal problem with no known organic cause.  

What causes irritable bowel syndrome?

The exact cause is not known however it is thought that it is most likely due to both over and under activity of the smooth muscle lining the bowel.  This may be attributed to infectious diarrhoea illnesses, dietary allergies and psychogenic causes.  None of the theories have been proven which makes treatment difficult and unpredictable.

Symptoms may be exacerbated by:

  • Stress

  • Travel

  • Diet changes

What are the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome?

Abdominal bloating

  • Alternating constipation and diarrhoea

  • Abdominal pain


Irritable bowel disease is a diagnosis of exclusion.  Inflammatory bowel disease, infections, allergies, coeliac disease and other causes need to be excluded.



With no specific cause, treatment is challenging.  However some of the following assist with management of the symptoms:

  • Dietitian referral and low FODMAP diet

  • Reassurance and explanation of syndrome

  • Stress management

  • Laxatives and anti-spasmodic agents