Health Talk with Adeola – Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Alternating recurrent periods or random sporadic clusters of stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation’’ sounds familiar?  Yes, sounds like the commonly occurring Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It can be very frustrating to live with and can have a big impact on everyday life. To make matters worse, it can be a lifelong problem – but the good news is it can be well controlled and managed, leading mostly to a symptom-free life.

irritable bowel syndrome

IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME.

What is IBS?

(IBS) is a common condition that affects the digestive system. It causes symptoms like stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. These tend to come and go over time and can last for days, weeks or months at a time.

The exact cause is unknown – it’s been linked to things like food passing through your gut too quickly or too slowly, oversensitive nerves in your gut, stress and a family history of IBS.

There is no cure, but diet changes and medicines can often help control the symptoms.

The main symptoms of IBS are:

  • stomach pain or cramps – usually worse after eating and better after doing a poo
  • bloating – your tummy may feel uncomfortably full and swollen
  • diarrhoea – you may have watery poo and sometimes a sudden urgency to poo.
  • constipation – you may strain when pooing and feel like you cannot empty your bowels fully.

Others are:

  • excessive  farting (flatulence)
  • tiredness and a lack of energy
  • feeling sick (nausea)
  • not always being able to control when you poo (incontinence)

IBS flare-ups can happen for no obvious reason.

irritable bowel syndrome

Sometimes they have a trigger like:

  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • certain foods, such as spicy or fatty food, and certain types of fruits and vegetables
  • stress and anxiety.

  SEE YOUR DOCTOR URGENTLY IF YOU HAVE:

  • lost a lot of weight for no reason
  • bleeding from your bottom or bloody diarrhoea or mucus in your stool
  • a hard lump or swelling in your tummy
  • persistent vomiting and diarrhoea.

These could be signs of something more serious.

General tips to relieve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms

There’s no single diet or medicine that works for everyone with IBS. But there are lots of things that can help if you have been diagnosed with it.

irritable bowel syndrome

Ask your pharmacists for medicines that can help relieve symptoms. Probiotics may help some people.

Check with your doctor who will examine you and may arrange some blood and stool tests to exclude any serious cause, give advice and treatment as necessary.

Diagnosis and Treatment.

General lifestyle changes – usually dietary advice and habit modifications.

Possible referral to a dietician if the above doesn’t help. Dieticians give general diet tips for IBS, advice on certain types of food, like dairy and gluten, allergy testing.

Over the counter medications as suggested by your Pharmacist and/or medicines prescribed by your  Doctor. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist if you have severe symptoms and other medicines have not helped.

Psychological Therapies: If you have had IBS for a long time and other treatments are not helping. This can help if stress or anxiety is triggering your symptoms. It can also help you cope with your condition better.

The IBS Network is the national charity for people with IBS.

References: IBS network. Patient UK. NHS website.  GP notebook.

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Health Talk With Adeola – OCD.

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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

The reports of suicide in the news in recent months has brought my attention back to mental health problems and I picked OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) as one of the common but less well-publicised mental health problems which is associated with an increased risk of suicide.

The worldwide prevalence of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is approximately 2% of the general population. It is thought that 1-3 in 100 people have some form of OCD behaviours or traits.

What is OCD?

A disorder is defined as an illness that disrupts normal physical or mental functions. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common mental health problem. Symptoms typically include recurring thoughts and repetitive actions in response to the recurring thoughts.

Health talk with Adeola - OCD

What are Obsessions?

Obsessions are unpleasant thoughts, images or urges that keep coming into your mind. Common obsessions include:

  • Fears about contamination with dirt, germs, viruses (for example, HIV), etc
  • Worries about doors being unlocked, fires left on, causing harm to someone, etc
  • Intrusive thoughts or images of swearing, blasphemy, sex, someone harmed, etc.
  • Fear of making a mistake or behaving badly.
  • A need for exactness in how you order or arrange things.

Obsessions can be about all sorts of things. Obsessive thoughts can make you feel disgusted, anxious or depressed. You normally try to ignore or suppress obsessive thoughts.

Health talk with Adeola - OCD

What are Compulsions?

Compulsions are thoughts or actions that you feel you must do or repeat. Usually, the compulsive act is in response to an obsession. A compulsion is a way of trying to deal with the distress or anxiety caused by an obsession.

For example, you may wash your hands every few minutes in response to an obsessional fear about germs. Another example is you may keep on checking that doors are locked, in response to the obsession about doors being unlocked. Other compulsions include repeated cleaning, counting, touching, saying words silently, arranging and organising – but there are others.

The Impact of OCD

In popular culture and frequently within the media OCD is mistakenly portrayed as a positive trait and personality quirk, but in reality – for those that suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), it has a devastating impact on their life. The obsessions that you have with OCD can make you feel really anxious and distressed.

The severity of OCD can range from some life disruption to causing severe distress. You know that the obsessions and compulsions are excessive or unreasonable. However, you find it difficult or impossible to resist them.

OCD affects people in different ways. For example, some people spend hours carrying out compulsions and, as a consequence, cannot get on with normal activities.

health talk with adeola

Some people do their compulsions over and over again in secret (like rituals). Other people may seem to cope with normal activities but are distressed by their recurring obsessive thoughts. OCD can affect your work (or schoolwork in children), relationships, social life and quality of life.

OCD can be so severe that it can seriously impact on some or all areas of a person’s life, sometimes disrupting or completely ruining: Education, Employment, Career development, Relationships with partners, parents, siblings and friends, Starting a family.

Also, some of the behaviours that people do to cope with OCD (including compulsions) can also have devastating effects, for example, Substance abuse (self-medicating with alcohol or other substances or harmful drugs)

Who gets OCD and why?

The cause of OCD is not clear.  Anyone at any age can develop OCD but it usually first develops between the ages of 18 and 30. Up to 2 in 100 children are also thought to have OCD. If you are concerned that you may have OCD, you should see your doctor and explain your concerns. Is there any thought that keeps bothering you that you would like to get rid of but cannot? Do these thoughts interfere to the extent that you respond to them with some compulsory actions so much so that it interferes with your daily activities by taking a long time to finish them or not even being able to perform your daily activities or function?

A detailed assessment is needed for OCD to be diagnosed. This may either be carried out by your doctor or by a specialist mental health team. The assessment will look at any obsessional thoughts and compulsions that you have and how they affect you and your daily life. Children with OCD may be referred to a specialist mental health team which is experienced in assessing and treating children with OCD.

What is the treatment for OCD?

The usual treatment for OCD is:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT); or
  • Medication, usually with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant medicine; or
  • A combination of CBT plus an SSRI antidepressant medicine.
health talk with adeola

Cognitive behavioural therapy is a type of therapy that deals with your current thought processes and/or behaviours and aims to change them by creating strategies to overcome negative patterns, which may help you to manage OCD more effectively.

Recent studies suggest that people with OCD are 10 times more likely to die by suicide than the general population. Actively thinking about suicide (sometimes called suicidal ideation) also appears to be relatively common among people affected by OCD.  This risk can be further heightened when an OCD sufferer develops depression because he or she is unable to relieve themselves of the disabling symptoms of OCD.

The take-home message is to seek help early when suffering from symptoms of OCD or indeed any mental health problems. We all have a role to play in reducing the suicide rates in our community. Being aware and supportive of people with mental health difficulties goes a long way to relieve their distress and prevent the rising rates of suicide.

Acknowledgements:

OCD UK, WHO, VeryWell mind, Time to change.org.uk, NHS Self Help therapies. NHS Cognitive behavioural therapies.

Suicide Risk in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Exploration of Risk Factors: A Systematic Review. (PMID:29929465)

See also:

https://www.myauntylulu.com/obsessive-compulsive-disorder/

https://www.myauntylulu.com/health-talk-with-adeola/

https://www.myauntylulu.com/health-talk-with-adeola-2/

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Health Talk with Adeola

health talk with Adeola
RECOGNISING STRESS AND HOW TO MANAGE IT

Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. Stress is a common experience in everyday life. We feel stress in response to situations that we find difficult or challenging. People have different ways of reacting to stress, so a situation that feels stressful to one person may be motivating to someone else.

Whilst a bit of stress can help to motivate us to reach our goals; too much stress can be bad for our bodies and minds. Feeling over-burdened at work, reacting to a major life event, and coping with a difficult situation we were not expecting are some examples of things people report as causing a high level of stress. Stressful life events do not necessarily have to be negative events. For example, events such as starting a new job, moving house and getting married can all be stressful. Overall these positive and negative pressures of life turn into stress when you feel unable to cope.

Telltale signs of stress building up include:

  • Not being able to sleep properly with worries going through your mind.
  • Minor problems causing you to feel impatient or irritable.
  • Not being able to concentrate due to many things going through your mind.
  • Being unable to make decisions.
  • Drinking or smoking more.
  • Not enjoying food so much.
  • Being unable to relax and always feeling that something needs to be done.
  • Headaches and muscle tension in the neck and shoulders
  • Feeling tense. Sometimes ‘fight or flight’ hormones are released causing physical symptoms. These include:
  •  Feeling sick (nauseated).
  • A ‘knot’ in the stomach
  • Feeling sweaty with a dry mouth.
  • A ‘thumping’ heart (palpitations).

Signs and symptoms of stress overload

health talk with Adeola
Cognitive symptoms:                                          
  • Memory problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment
  • Seeing only the negative
  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Constant worrying
Emotional symptoms:
  • Depression or general unhappiness
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Moodiness, irritability, or anger
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Other mental or emotional health problems
health talk with Adeola
Physical symptoms:
  • Aches and pains
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Chest pain, rapid heart rate
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent colds or flu
Behavioral symptoms:
  • Eating more or less
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

Effects of chronic stress

If you tend to get stressed out frequently, like many of us in today’s demanding world, your body may exist in a heightened state of stress most of the time. And that can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can suppress your immune system, upset your digestive and reproductive systems, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, and speed up the aging process. It can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.

Health problems caused or exacerbated by stress include:

  1. Depression and anxiety
  2. Pain of any kind
  3. Sleep problems
  4. Autoimmune diseases
  5. Digestive problems
  6. Skin conditions, such as eczema
  7. Heart disease
  8. Weight problems
  9. Reproductive issues
  10. Thinking and memory problems

Improving your ability to handle stress.

  1. Realise when it is causing a problem and identify the causes: An important step in tackling stress is to realise when it is a problem for you and make a connection between the physical and emotional signs you are experiencing and the pressures you are faced with.
  2. Review your lifestyle: Are you taking on too much? Can you do some things in a more leisurely way?
  • Eat Healthily: There is also a growing amount of evidence showing how food can affect our mood.
  • Be aware of your smoking and drinking: If possible, try to cut right down on smoking and drinking. They may seem to reduce tension, but in fact they can make problems worse. Alcohol and caffeine can increase feelings of anxiety.
  • Exercise: well proven to reduce stress.
  • Take Time Out: To relax and do some self care.
  • Get some restful sleep: Relieves tiredness and helps you think clearly to deal with stress.
  • Build supportive relationships: friends or family can offer help and practical advice can support you in managing stress. Joining a club, enrolling on a course, or volunteering can all be good ways of expanding your social networks and encourage you to do something different.

Treatment

health talk with Adeola
health talk with Adeola

Some people find they have times in their lives when stress becomes severe or difficult to cope with. See a doctor if stress  becomes worse. Further treatments  eg pyschological therapies or medication may be appropriate.

Take away bite:

If you continue to feel overwhelmed by stress, seeking professional help can support you in managing effectively. Do not be afraid to seek professional help if you feel that you are no longer able to manage things on your own. Many people feel reluctant to seek help as they feel that it is an admission of failure. This is not the case and it is important to get help as soon as possible so you can begin to feel better. Remember stress is a risk factor for and can precipitate physical and mental health problems so seek help when you feel stressed and are unable to cope and/or function.

Best wishes,

Dr Adeola.

Health Talk with Adeola

Acknowledgements: NHS inform, Mental Health Foundation, Patient UK, Help Guide. American Psychiatry Association

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Health Talk With Adeola

health talk with Adeola

Welcome to another edition of Health Talk. May I humbly ask our female readers to please read this! Can you also kindly pass on to the wonderful men in your life. Husband, brothers, fathers, friends… please don’t exclude anyone. 🙏🏽 Thanks.

Aunty Lulu.

This month on Health Talk, let’s talk about Men’s health …

Hello 👋 everyone … it’s time to give men some attention .

Men generally have much lower health care seeking habits than women. Some men feel it’s not manly to seek such help and would man it up for as long as they can. We want men to be aware that it’s okay to discuss freely with their doctors and timely too, to prevent the negative outcomes of delayed health seeking behaviours .

A lot more men are coming forward to seek health care realising that many men share these concerns and can choose to see male doctors if it makes it easier to disclose sensitive health concerns ..

Two particular areas where men find it difficult to seek help are :

  1. Mental health
  2. Male genital problems

MENTAL HEALTH

Mental health conditions can creep in slowly and it can be a challenge at times to actually come to the realisation and the acceptance that one is struggling with it .

Depression and Anxiety – which are the commonest types can start insidiously and can be subtle resulting in most men suppressing it . These conditions when not not dealt with it can soon take over, become obstructive and interfere with optimal functioning in every areas of life .
Please seek help early and there are lots of interventions available from talking therapies and/or medications among other means.

MALE GENITAL PROBLEMS

These are, but not limited to testicular /scrotal pain or lumps and bumps which can be a symptom of infection, cysts, hydrocoele, varicocoele or something more serious like testicular cancers which are common in younger men.

Erectile dysfunction is another condition that men find difficult to discuss but these are amenable with medications and can alert doctors to underlying heart problems or diabetes amongst other causes that would otherwise be missed. Erectile dysfunction also commonly occur as a side effect of some medications . Doctors do listen and treat this with confidentiality and lots of sensitivity.

Prostate problems can manifest as difficulty in passing urine ,poor stream or needing to urinate frequently amongst other symptoms.This is common in older men and most find it embarrassing but again there can be sensitive discussions about treatment options as well as the important need to exclude prostate cancer .

***Breast swellings and lumps can occur in men and this should necessitate an urgent visit to the doctor to exclude serious causes .

The above is just an overview to raise awareness and to encourage men to seek help early and I will be discussing each problem more deeply as necessary as we go along .

Thank you for your time and I will be happy to answer your questions.

Adeola.

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