Aug
14

Patient Story (IBS): Siobhan Moore, 32 years old, Limerick

By

patients-story-ibs“I first noticed symptoms in March of last year. I read up on them and they seemed to be typical of someone with IBS – bloating, gas, abdominal pain, fatigue, diarrhoea, constipation (alternating bouts of both).

“The diarrhoea was awful as it occurred three to four times each day, while there were about two episodes of constipation each week. The bloating was constant, along with a lot of gas and unpleasant abdominal pain and spasms continuously after eating.
“The fatigue was a major part of it. Life had become very limited for both me and my six year old son, Sean, in the sense of going anywhere as the diarrhoea and pain had become so bad that, at various times in the day, I would often have to lie down and I would have no energy at all. I had stopped calling to friends’ houses as the symptoms had become so embarrassing.
“Depression definitely became part of the problem too as I just didn’t want to leave the house at all at times and I lost my motivation and my get-up-and-go. My son and I usually loved doing things together and he needs to have his life too, so it was getting on top of me. I also lost any interest in socialising because even just having a few bottles of beer would lead to vomiting plus having to spend the next day in bed with abdominal pain, gas and even more severe bouts of diarrhoea.
“I felt I couldn’t live my life in this way, and nor could Sean – it wasn’t fair. I felt that life was passing me by and became very withdrawn from my friends. It was unlike me, especially when I was usually known as the person full of life and energy.
“The solution finally came when I was referred by my consultant gastroenterologist to Elaine after I had my colonoscopy done to receive information on IBS and the diet I needed to follow. To be honest, I never believed in the usefulness of dietitians before this because I considered my diet to be sufficiently healthy already but I was prepared to at least listen to what she had to say.
“Elaine is fantastic at what she does – she has a very kind and sympathetic manner and is so thorough in her approach. She guided me along with very detailed advice on the best foods for my condition and also the worst foods – the ones to avoid. She also seemed to totally understand how I was feeling; Elaine explained exactly what IBS is and how to control it.
“Now my symptoms have disappeared – that is why I say Elaine is a miracle worker! The fatigue is non-existent and, after a year of being unwell, myself and my son are now enjoying life again. I am feeling great mentally also.
“I enjoy the diet and cooking has become so much more enjoyable as I make most things from scratch now, as opposed to out of a jar. I’m actually more experimental in that I’m trying more foods than I would have before and, if I’m going anywhere, I now bring a few snacks with me to prevent symptoms returning. Plenty of water on a daily basis was also recommended by Elaine and that seems to be working.
“I would recommend Elaine to anyone because she is very down to earth and understands how difficult your life becomes with this condition and reassures you that your life will return to normal again. And she was right – my life did return to normal. Now I thank Elaine for giving me my life back.”

“I first noticed symptoms in March of last year. I read up on them and they seemed to be typical of someone with IBS – bloating, gas, abdominal pain, fatigue, diarrhoea, constipation (alternating bouts of both).

“The diarrhoea was awful as it occurred three to four times each day, while there were about two episodes of constipation each week. The bloating was constant, along with a lot of gas and unpleasant abdominal pain and spasms continuously after eating.

“The fatigue was a major part of it. Life had become very limited for both me and my six year old son, Sean, in the sense of going anywhere as the diarrhoea and pain had become so bad that, at various times in the day, I would often have to lie down and I would have no energy at all. I had stopped calling to friends’ houses as the symptoms had become so embarrassing.

“Depression definitely became part of the problem too as I just didn’t want to leave the house at all at times and I lost my motivation and my get-up-and-go. My son and I usually loved doing things together and he needs to have his life too, so it was getting on top of me. I also lost any interest in socialising because even just having a few bottles of beer would lead to vomiting plus having to spend the next day in bed with abdominal pain, gas and even more severe bouts of diarrhoea.

“I felt I couldn’t live my life in this way, and nor could Sean – it wasn’t fair. I felt that life was passing me by and became very withdrawn from my friends. It was unlike me, especially when I was usually known as the person full of life and energy.

“The solution finally came when I was referred by my consultant gastroenterologist to Elaine after I had my colonoscopy done to receive information on IBS and the diet I needed to follow. To be honest, I never believed in the usefulness of dietitians before this because I considered my diet to be sufficiently healthy already but I was prepared to at least listen to what she had to say.

“Elaine is fantastic at what she does – she has a very kind and sympathetic manner and is so thorough in her approach. She guided me along with very detailed advice on the best foods for my condition and also the worst foods – the ones to avoid. She also seemed to totally understand how I was feeling; Elaine explained exactly what IBS is and how to control it.

“Now my symptoms have disappeared – that is why I say Elaine is a miracle worker! The fatigue is non-existent and, after a year of being unwell, myself and my son are now enjoying life again. I am feeling great mentally also.

“I enjoy the diet and cooking has become so much more enjoyable as I make most things from scratch now, as opposed to out of a jar. I’m actually more experimental in that I’m trying more foods than I would have before and, if I’m going anywhere, I now bring a few snacks with me to prevent symptoms returning. Plenty of water on a daily basis was also recommended by Elaine and that seems to be working.

“I would recommend Elaine to anyone because she is very down to earth and understands how difficult your life becomes with this condition and reassures you that your life will return to normal again. And she was right – my life did return to normal. Now I thank Elaine for giving me my life back.”

Facts About… Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine (or colon). IBS can cause cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhoea and constipation. More women than men suffer from IBS.

Other symptoms sometimes include: nausea, headaches, belching, poor appetite, tiredness, backache, muscle pains, feeling quickly ‘full’ after eating, heartburn and bladder symptoms.

Most people with IBS find that symptoms improve as they learn to control their condition – by managing diet, lifestyle and stress levels. Only a small number of people with IBS have severe signs and symptoms.

It is crucial that anyone suffering with any of the above symptoms consult their GP to rule out more serious conditions. A diagnosis of IBS should be made by a professional.

What happens during an episode?

The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract and relax in a coordinated rhythm as they move food from your stomach through your intestinal tract to your rectum. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, the contractions may be stronger and last longer than normal. Food is forced through your intestines more quickly, causing gas, bloating and diarrhoea. In some cases, the opposite occurs – food passage slows down, and stools become hard and dry.

What triggers an episode?

Many people find that their symptoms worsen when they eat certain foods. For instance, chocolate, milk and alcohol might cause constipation or diarrhoea. Carbonated b  verages and some fruits and vegetables may lead to bloating and discomfort in some people with IBS. Also, symptoms seem to be aggravated, or become more frequent during stressful times and, for women, during or around menstrual periods. Any stress reduction techniques, such as meditation or yoga, are useful during a bout of IBS to reduce symptoms, but dietary intervention is crucial.

Elaine’s Advice for IBS Sufferers

“I work with my clients to highlight the trigger foods they are consuming. Dietary advice focuses on prevention and management of the clients symptoms. Eliminating or reducing the intake of certain foods is recommended and monitoring to see if symptoms improve. Although IBS does not cause permanent damage to your colon, the symptoms are extremely uncomfortable for people – such as painful bloating or passing a lot of gas – so a change in diet can make a huge difference.

Some people have triggers that are quickly identified but some foods are not that obvious, so a consultation is essential in order to discover an individual’s trigger.

Patients need to be continually monitored over a period of time, and dietary advice will be adjusted and tailored to the suit the individual’s symptoms and progress. Although, traditionally, IBS sufferers were advised to eat more fibre, we now have to be careful about the type and amount of fibre introduced as it can actually worsen symptoms in some patients. For instance, wheat can aggravate the colon so reducing, not necessarily excluding, wheat in the diet may be recommended.”

Top Tip

During an episode, I always advise my clients to drink at least eight glasses of fluid per day, especially water or other non-caffeinated drinks such as herbal teas. Also, restrict tea and coffee during an episode (as caffeine may be a factor in some people).

For  more specific advice on managing symptoms, please book a consultation with me at one of my clinics. It is never advisable to follow a restrictive diet (one that eliminates major food groups) without being guided by a dietitian, such as myself, who is a member of the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (INDI). Some restrictive diets, designed by an individual who does not have professional knowledge of dietetics, can actually lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies in the long run.

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About Elaine

Elaine graduated from Trinity College with a B.Sc., (Hons) in Human Nutrition and Dietetics. She gained wide experience working as clinical nutritionist in several hospitals prior to establishing her first private dietetic clinic in 1992.

Private Practice Experience
Elaine has gained vast experience specialising in providing private individual dietetic consultations for her clients in her clinics for the past 17 years. In recent years, her main areas of interest are weight management, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and nutrition and gastro-enterology.

Elaine is an active member of the INDI and was chairperson of the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic weight management interest group from 2005 to 2007.

Dietetic and Nutrition Consultancy
Elaine has provided dietetic consultancy to a wide range of industries including private hospitals, hotels and catering companies. She has designed, piloted, implemented and coordinated workplace wellbeing programmes for several prominent companies and large international corporations.