Information for the public
- Bowel spasm
- Coeliac disease
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Large bowel
- Low FODMAP diet
- Off-label use
- Psychological therapy
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)
- Tricyclic antidepressant (TCA)
The lower part of the trunk of the body that contains the stomach, bowel and other abdominal organs.
A condition in which a person doesn't have enough red cells in their blood to carry oxygen around the body.
The lower part of the digestive system, below the stomach. The bowel (or intestines) is split into the small bowel and the large bowel.
A life‑long condition of the small bowel caused by a reaction to gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye.
A type of talking treatment that can help people to change the way they think and behave. People with irritable bowel syndrome can use CBT to learn how to react differently to their symptoms (for example, by using relaxation techniques and staying positive, which can help to ease pain).
An expert in diet and nutrition who is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council. Dietitians give practical, safe advice on nutrition based on current scientific evidence.
Also known as stools or poo, this is thesolid, semi‑solid or liquid waste material from digestion that is passed out of the body.
Fibre (also known as roughage) is only found in foods that come from plants. It is pushed through the digestive system, absorbing water along the way and easing bowel movements. Good sources of fibre include vegetables, fruit, pulses and wholemeal bread.
A type of therapy used to create subconscious change in a person's attitude, approach or behaviour. It may help to ease pain in people with irritable bowel syndrome.
A disease in which parts of the bowel become inflamed (red and swollen). It is not related to irritable bowel syndrome.
A type of laxative that increases the amount of water in the stools, reducing constipation.
The lower section of bowel (also known as the colon) where water is absorbed from digested food as it moves towards the rectum.
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. These are complex names for molecules known as short‑chain carbohydrates that are found in a variety of foods (for example, wheat, some fruit and vegetables, pulses, artificial sweeteners and some processed foods). FODMAPs are poorly absorbed in the small bowel and pass into the large bowel, where bacteria ferment them. This produces gas that can cause bloating, wind and discomfort or pain. FODMAPs can also draw water into the bowel, causing diarrhoea. Following a diet that is low in FODMAPs could help with these symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome. People can gradually re‑introduce foods again to find out which specific FODMAPs cause problems for them.
In the UK, medicines are licensed to show that they work well enough and are safe enough to be used for specific conditions and groups of people. Some medicines can also be helpful for conditions or people they are not specifically for. This is called 'off‑label' use. Off‑label use might also mean the medicine is taken at a different dose or in a different way to the licence, such as using a cream or taking a tablet. There is more information about licensing medicines on NHS Choices.
A general term used to describe meeting with a therapist to talk about feelings and thoughts and how these affect a person's life and wellbeing.
A type of drug that can be used to ease pain and discomfort in irritable bowel syndrome – this use is different from its action in treating depression. Examples include fluoxetine and sertraline. At the time of publication SSRIs may be recommended for 'off‑label' use in this guideline. Your doctor should tell you this and explain what it means for you.
A type of drug that can be used to ease pain and discomfort in irritable bowel syndrome – this use is different from its action in treating depression. Examples include amitriptyline and imipramine. At the time of publication TCAs may be recommended for 'off‑label' use in this guideline. Your doctor should tell you this and explain what it means for you.