Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition of the digestive system. It can cause bouts of stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.

The symptoms of IBS usually appear when a person is between 20 and 30 years of age. They tend to come and go in bouts, often during times of stress or after eating certain foods.  See below for more details on the symptoms of IBS.

Symptoms vary between individuals and affect some people more than others, however most people have either diarrhea or constipation, or bouts of both. You may also have mucus in your stools.

You may find the painful stomach cramps of IBS ease after going to the toilet and opening your bowels.

The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but most experts agree it’s related to an increased sensitivity of the entire gut, which can be linked to a prior food-related illness or food intolerances such as wheat, milk or sugar.

Psychological factors such as stress also play a part in IBS particularly if as individuals we have a tendency to “gut react” to situations.

Physically IBS can be linked by a malfunctioning Ileo Caecal valve – This is an anatomical “flap” that seperates your small and large intestine that should open and close. When it malfunctions it can be responsible for many symptoms including those associated with IBS.

Although the symptoms of IBS can be troublesome, the condition does not pose a serious threat to your health. For example, it will not increase your chances of developing cancer or other bowel-related conditions.

IBS is unpredictable. You may go for many months without any symptoms and then have a sudden flare-up. It can also take many months for your symptoms to settle down.

IBS can be painful and debilitating, and can have a negative impact on your quality of life.

Before you start treatment for IBS, it is a good idea to visit your GP to rule out other illnesses, such as an infection, coeliac disease (a digestive condition where a person has an adverse reaction to gluten) or chronic inflammation of the gut.

What are the Symptoms of IBS?

The symptoms of IBS are usually worse after eating and tend to come and go in bouts.

Most people have a flare-up of symptoms that lasts two to four days. After this time, the symptoms usually improve but do not disappear completely.

The most common symptoms of IBS are:

  • abdominal pain and cramping – often relieved by emptying your bowels
  • a change in your bowel habits – such as diarrhoea, constipation, or sometimes both
  • bloating and swelling of your abdomen
  • excessive wind (flatulence)
  • an urgent need to go to the toilet
  • a feeling that you need to open your bowels even if you have just been to the toilet
  • a feeling you have not fully emptied your bowels
  • passing mucus from your bottom
  • Due to the embarrassment, pain and discomfort of IBS, many people with the condition also have feelings of depression and anxiety.

There are three main patterns of bowel symptoms in IBS. They are:

  • IBS with diarrhea – when you have repeated bouts of diarrhea
  • IBS with constipation – when you have repeated bouts of constipation
  • IBS mixed – when you have repeated bouts of diarrhoea and constipation
  • These patterns are changeable and it is common to go for long periods with few or no symptoms at all.

Other symptoms that we will call “Red flag symptoms” indicate you have another serious condition these require further tests with your GP.

These include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • A swelling or lump in your abdomen or bottom
  • Bleeding from your bottom
  • Anaemia

What is the Ileo-Cecal Valve?

Between the small intestine and the large intestine is a valve called the Ileo-Cecal Valve (ICV). The purpose of this valve is to “prevent backflow” from the Large Intestine into the Small Intestine.

The Small Intestine is where we absorb our nutrients from our food, at the end of the small intestine, the Large Intestine begins and the two are separated by the ICV. Watery waste products left over from absorption are passed into the large intestine.

If things are working well the ileo-cecal valve:

  1. Remains closed most of the time.
  2. Opens briefly to let the contents of the small intestine exit.
  3. Closes again quickly to prevent any materials in the large intestine from leaking back.

Problems with an open Ileo Cecal valve are extremely common in today’s society yet its symptoms are often overlooked. The ileo caecal valve is a very common cause of digestive complaints, but very few practitioners or Doctors understand it’s importance.

Let me just explain why it is so important.

Let’s pretend you have a downstairs toilet right next to the kitchen. You have just prepared a lovely dinner but the door to your toilet is jammed open and now the toilet has all backed up and nasty loo stuff is coming into your kitchen getting everywhere… you really wont want to eat your dinner with that everywhere would you?

In this analogy the small intestine is the kitchen and the large intestine is the loo. The faulty door is your Ileo Caecal valve. Sadly when the faecal matter returns to the small intestine it carries on doing its job of absorption so we reabsorb toxic waste matter making us feel tired, headachey, have joint pain and of course awful IBS

Typical Symptoms of Your Ileocecal Valve

ICV symptoms can present as joint pain, circulation problems, muscular aches and pains, pinched nerves, or even whole body arthritis. The following lists many of the common symptoms attributed to a malfunctioning ICV:

  • Sudden, stabbing, sharp low back or leg pain
  • Sharp, pinpoint headaches, especially on the left side, at the base of the skull
  • Dull headaches, which often linger for hours in the frontal area
  • Migraine headaches are frequently of ileocecal origin as a system-wide response to the toxicity of the ICV
  • Chronic sinus infection, dripping sinuses, especially when not during allergy season
  • Allergies, the type often wrongly attributed to dust, cat hair, and mites
  • Dark circles under the eyes, puffy cheeks
  • “Loose bowels” not quite diarrhea, but looser than should be
  • Any of the “colon syndromes” such as Crohn’s Disease, spastic colon, irritable bowel, Celiac Disease
  • Burning leg pain (that feels like a nerve) into the front of the left thigh
  • “Asthma-like” symptoms
  • General non-specific lower GI discomfort or symptoms often attributed to a psychological cause by practitioners unfamiliar with the ICV

This is all resolvable! We can help you get rid of these symptoms and be free from IBS.

Our experts are very experienced at dealing with ICV issues and IBS symptoms.