Gastroenterologists Murdoch & Perth
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
Irritable bowel syndrome (or IBS) affects the colon, or large bowel, which is the part of the digestive tract that stores stool (poo or faeces).
In the past this has sometimes been called ‘abdominal migraine’. More recently doctors and other experts have been talking about either ‘functional bowel symptoms’ or ‘brain gut axis dysfunction’ which basically all mean the same thing.
People with IBS appear to have sensitive bowels that are easily ‘upset’.
IBS is a very common problem. One in five Australians have the unpleasant symptoms of IBS at some time during their lives.
It is more common in women, often comes on in the late teens or early twenties and may come and go over a person’s life. Symptoms are often more troublesome before a woman’s period.
The main symptoms of IBS are:
- Abdominal pain or discomfort that is often relieved by passing wind or faeces
- Stomach bloating
- Chronic diarrhoea or constipation, or alternating between the two
Other symptoms are:
- Whitish mucus in the stool/poo
- The feeling that you have not finished a bowel movement
- Nausea IBS can be painful, however, it does not damage the colon or other parts of the digestive system. IBS does not lead to other health problems
IBS diagnosis Murdoch
How is Irritable Bowel Syndrome diagnosed?
IBS can often be diagnosed after other conditions have been ruled out, by carefully talking to the patient about their symptoms and sometimes by doing blood tests, scans or a colonoscopy.
Diagnostic tests will generally be required if:
- you are over 40 years old when you develop symptoms
- if you have a family history of bowel cancer
- if it is suspected that your symptoms are caused by other illnesses such as coeliac disease (intolerance to gluten), inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis or polyps
The following symptoms in particular mean that further tests will be necessary:
- bleeding from the back passage
- weight loss
- severe diarrhoea
- severe pain
- in general - symptoms of IBS should not wake you up at night, so if the pain, diarrhoea or bloating wake you up at night then you should see a doctor or talk to your specialist.
For more information, please read our blog article "The power of a multidisciplinary approach to managing IBS".
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Murdoch
Who manages and treats IBS?
Irritable bowel syndrome is often treated either at home with changing diet, or with treatment bought from the chemist or supermarket. Many people talk to their GP, who may give further advice.
Your GP will refer you to Wexford Gastroenterology if further advice is needed, if treatment is not working or to rule out other conditions that could be causing your symptoms.
Wexford Gastroenterology has both child (paediatric) and adult specialists who are trained in managing IBS, and we also have a dietitian, naturopath and clinical psychologist who can give further advice when necessary where their expertise is required. We may refer patients to a physiotherapist.
Wexford Gastroenterology Murdoch
Why Wexford Gastroenterology for Irritable Bowel Syndrome?
Wexford Gastroenterology is made up of both experienced and newly qualified physicians and other health specialists.
We believe that IBS is best managed by trained specialists with an interest in that field. Patients are often referred by GPs to gastroenterologists or even surgeons who do not have an interest in IBS and consider them troublesome patients or just do a colonoscopy and tell them there is nothing else they can do.
At Wexford Gastroenterology our philosophy is to help patients get back to what is most important in their lives, shifting focus from living with chronic disease and attending multiple medical appointments, to normal life activities, and this includes IBS.
As part of our holistic approach we have a clinical psychologist, dietitian and naturopath in our group.
Our team of experienced endoscopists are gap-free providers with the major health funds. The size of our group means that we are able to accommodate urgent referrals at short notice.
In addition to our private practice at Wexford Gastroenterology, we have public commitments, in Fiona Stanley Hospital, Peel Health Campus Mandurah, Rockingham General Hospital, Perth Children's Hospital and Fremantle Hospital.
Gastrointestinal (GI) Clinic Murdoch
What is important when choosing a GI Clinic?
Knowing that you need to see a gastroenterologist or gastrointestinal (GI) doctor can be worrisome and it is important that you see a specialist that you are comfortable with. We suggest considering the following:
- Large practices are more likely to have a specialist who has an interest in your condition, and you are more likely to find a gastroenterologist who suits you. Larger practices are often able to see patients at short notice, particularly if procedures such as colonoscopy are required. Wexford Gastroenterology is the largest gastroenterology group in Western Australia.
- You should find a gastroenterologist who you are comfortable with, who you can talk to and who you understand. We have both male and female gastroenterologists of different ethnicities who speak many different languages.
- We recommend seeing a gastroenterology practice where at least some of the specialists have public commitments. This is helpful if your health insurance does not cover all of your investigations or treatments. In addition to our private practice at Wexford Gastroenterology, we have public commitments, in Fiona Stanley Hospital, Peel Health Campus Mandurah, Rockingham General Hospital, Perth Children's Hospital and Fremantle Hospital.
- Look at which hospitals your gastroenterology practice is linked with. This may be important due to where you live, but it may be important if you do ever need hospital treatment. St John of God Murdoch is an excellent hospital and we are proud to be associated with it.
We all enjoy working at Wexford Gastroenterology and confident that if you see us you will have made the right choice. Any of our friendly team can answer any questions you have about which gastroenterologist might be best for you.