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How to treat irritable bowel syndrome?

Q: I am 42 years old and am suffering from acute constipation and gasproblem for 16 years. I was checked up in many hospitals like All India Institute, Ram Manohar Lohia and Moolchand Hospitals, but am not relieved. Stool test showed Giardiasis. I go to the toilet hardly once a day but motion is not clear and sometimes mucus comes with the stool. My digestion seems weak and I feel as if there is gas on the left side of the stomach. I suffered from Malaria in 1983, four times in one year and then it turned into typhoid. Since then I am suffering from this problem. . Kindly advise. I will be very thankful to you sir.

A:You have been suffering from constipation and gas problems since you were 26 years old. You have been seen by many gastroenterologists. You had giardiasis and typhoid in the past. As you have constipation it is most unlikely that either of these diagnoses are a current chronic problem. Malaria does not change into typhoid - these conditions are caused by different agents. The most likely cause for your problems is that you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). As you had the symptoms for 16 years, you should be re-assured that they cannot be due to anything serious- like cancer. People, in general, have differing bowel frequencies - some may go to the toilet several times a day whilst others may go once in a week. The fact that you cannot complete the motion (i.e. get a feeling of incomplete emptying) is classical of the irritable bowel syndrome. I would suggest that you take some more roughage in your diet and drink at least 2 litres of fluid a day. Unfortunately, people with IBS have symptoms most of their life but sometimes they are exacerbated by anxiety.

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