Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Around one in seven Australia adults experience the unpleasant symptoms from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It can adversely affect your quality of life: preventing you from going to work, attending social events and in some cases affecting your self-confidence. Common symptoms include gas, bloating, cramping, constipation or diarrhoea or altering between the two.

The cause of IBS is currently unclear and is likely to be multifactorial. Some purposed causes include disturbances in gut motility (how fast the food moves along the digestive tract), sensitivity of the intestines and changes in our gut bacteria.

IBS should be diagnosed by a medical doctor who should take a careful history of your symptoms and rule out any conditions that may have similar symptoms to IBS, such as Coeliac Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis) and some cancers.

Treatment options

Current treatment options available focus on symptom management and each with varying effectiveness, depending on symptoms experienced. These symptom management strategies include use of pharmaceuticals (medications), supplements, dietary therapies (e.g. Low Fodmap Diet), physical activity and psychological therapies.

The Low Fodmap Diet was developed by Monash University researchers, which limits food that has been shown to irritate the gut and cause IBS symptoms. Read here to find more information about the Low Fodmap Diet and how it can help to manage your symptoms.

How a dietitian could help you

  • Check that you have had the appropriate medical tests to rule out any other serious medical conditions with similar symptoms
  • Help you to identify the most suited dietary therapy for you
  • Tailor the Low Fodmap Diet to meet your needs, while ensuring your diet remains nutritionally adequate (if the Low Fodmap Diet is used)
  • Guide you through the different phases of the Low Fodmap Diet (if Low Fodmap Diet is used)
  • Help you to develop a long term food plan that could minimise IBS symptoms while optimising your gut health


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