Irritable Bowel Symptoms post-gut insult

There has been an increasing amount of Irritable Bowel Symptoms (IBS) being reported, which I think has a bit to do with it being a hot topic at the moment, but also due to people being more aware and proactive around their symptoms and gut health.

On a particular note I read an interesting article in the NZ Doctor Magazine (1 August edition) written by Gastroenterologist Dr Alan Fraser, which discussed Post Gastroenteritis IBS. I have had quite a few patients over the last few years, and especially this year, with lingering IBS symptoms for up to two months after a viral gastro insult, which can be quite challenging, as a physician, and as a patient.

As a patient, it is nice to have a definitive result or test, but in this case there is no definitive result or test. As a physician, we base this diagnosis on the history, exam, and physician experience. This can cause frustration, lack of confidence in the GP, or requesting unnecessary and expensive tests, which themselves can lead to further risk to the patient.

As a side note, Labtests will only perform a stool sample test for pathogens if the sample is watery diarrhoea (no formed stool), non-resolving and with history of recent travel or contaminated water in general.

“Approximately one in ten patients with an episode of gastroenteritis have continuing episodes of lower abdominal cramping pain, and diarrhoea that may continue for more than six months.”

This is a very interesting statistic and one that would correlate wHealthZoith what I have seen in my clinic this past few years. If you have experienced this, or you have had your doctor discuss this with you, be aware, you are not alone, and there often is no quick fix, and that it takes time.

Of particular interest to me is the role of the gut on your health, not just on post gastroenteritis, but from general wellbeing, through to mental health or even sport performance. There is some evidence developing around the use/uses of probiotics, so watch this space.

The notes I wish to leave you today are:

– Don’t be disheartened if there is no indication for testing or further investigations. This does not mean there is nothing ‘going wrong’, but that the test/investigation is of no benefit to your case.

– Work with your doctor/nutritionist/dietician to establish a healthy functioning gut. It takes time, and often a process of exclusion is needed.

By Dr Sam Mayhew

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