DRHC Dubai General Practitioner Clinic

Irritable bowel-  Dubai General Medicine Clinic

Irritable bowel - What is it?

An irritable bowel (also known as an irritable colon or irritable digestive system) is one that does not work smoothly and causes abdominal problems such as colicky pain and disturbed bowel actions. The bowel is a muscular tube that propels the food along in waves (called peristalsis). This muscular action may become overactive and cause spasms or tight contractions rather like a cramp in the leg muscles.

There is no clear-cut proven cause but one theory is that an important factor is an emotional stress, especially in those people who tend to ‘bottle things up inside’.

However, there is no proof supporting this theory. Possible causes or aggravating factors are:
  • Infection of the bowel (e.g. gastroenteritis)
  • Food irritation (e.g. spicy food)
  • Food allergy (e.g. milk, cream)
  • Lack of bulk (fiber) in the diet
  • Overuse of laxatives
  • Pain-killing drugs and antibiotics
  • Smoking
  • Salicylates or related chemicals such as aspirin, food
  • Colorings and fresh pineapple.
  • The main symptom is a vague discomfort or a cramp-like pain in the abdomen (in the center or lower left side).
  • This pain is usually relieved by passing the wind or by a bowel movement.
  • Diarrhea or constipation or both (alternating) may occur and sometimes the motions will be like small, hard pellets.
  • Mucus may also be passed from time to time.
  • You may also feel mildly nauseated, off your food, bloated, or flatulent (windy).
  • There may also be a sensation of incomplete emptying of the bowel.

How common is it?
At least 1 person in every 100 has irritable bowel syndrome, and many simply learn to live with it. Some authorities believe that up to 30% of the population has it to some degree. It can develop at any
age but it usually begins in the late teens or early 20s. It is likely to affect twice as many women as men.

The irritable bowel is harmless, but it is common for those with it to worry that they have cancer. It is usual to carry out investigations to ensure that there is no disease in the bowel.
There is no cure and the problem may come and go for years.


Anyone with an irritable bowel should try to work out the things that make the symptoms worse. If you recognize stresses and strains in your life, try to develop a more relaxed lifestyle. You may have to be less of a perfectionist in your approach to life.

Try to avoid any foods that you can identify as causing the problem. You may have to restrict or cut out smoking and alcohol.

A high fluid intake and a high-fiber diet may be the answer to your problem. This can be helped by adding 2 teaspoonfuls of unprocessed bran to your diet each day if increased fiber and fluids have not quite settled the problem.

The best fiber is ‘soluble’ fiber—that which is found in oats and green vegetables. Some ‘insoluble’ fibers such as legumes, seeds, and nuts can aggravate irritable bowel.

Medical help
If self-help measures are not controlling the problem, your doctor will be able to give you medicine to settle the painful spasm of an irritable bowel. You should avoid taking any
medicines not recommended by your doctor. We will treat you according to clinical evidence.
Likely to be beneficial
  • Antidepressants.
  • Antispasmodic drugs and peppermint oil.
  • Soluble fibre supplementation .