I’ve suffered with IBS for many years, causing constipation, bloating and cramps. I also have back pain which is worse when my IBS is bad. Are they connected?
Irritable bowel syndrome, otherwise known as IBS, is very common. As many as one in five people suffer with it and symptoms can be debilitating.
Bloating, stomach pain, diarrhoea and constipation happen frequently, usually every day.
But it is also associated with symptoms you wouldn’t necessarily associate with the bowel.
This includes tiredness, headaches, bladder issues, sexual dysfunction and, yes, back pain.
IBS is also associated with symptoms you wouldn’t necessarily associate with the bowel. This includes tiredness, headaches, bladder issues, sexual dysfunction and, yes, back pain (pictured)
Symptoms of IBS can come and go and are dependent on triggers that make them worse. These can be dietary such as caffeine or alcohol, or emotional such as stress and anxiety.
For those with both IBS and chronic back pain, symptoms of both are likely to flare up at the same time even if they are not directly linked.
Symptoms of any condition can cause stress, which in turn generates a flare-up of problems caused by another illness. Pain conditions in particular, including back problems, are very sensitive to emotional stress.
Importantly, IBS can mimic other, more serious conditions. The combination of IBS and back pain could disguise similar symptoms of endometriosis or Crohn’s disease, for example.
It is essential that these conditions are ruled out as part of the diagnostic process for IBS.
I don’t have access to a computer, never mind the internet, but my GP says I must order my repeat prescriptions online. Surely they can do it over the phone instead?
It is not standard procedure to issue prescriptions over the phone. Most GP surgeries do not have the staff to facilitate it, increasing the risk of serious errors.
In most cases, the patient fills in a prescription request slip at the surgery, in writing, and it is signed off by a GP in two to three days.
Patients on repeat prescriptions have a repeat slip which they fill out and return to the surgery for the GP to sign.
Anyone with a regular prescription should also speak to their pharmacist about what is known as EPS – the electronic prescribing service.
Patients can fill in an online form (such as on a computer, pictured), detailing their prescription and dosage, and the medicine is sent directly to a pharmacy of your choice
This means that patients no longer need to collect a paper prescription from the GP surgery. Patients can fill in an online form, detailing their prescription and dosage, and the medicine is sent directly to a pharmacy of your choice.
Check with the pharmacist to make sure they stock your repeat medication.
Patients can also have repeat prescriptions delivered with pharmacies such as Lloyds.
These are at-home services specifically designed for those who are housebound or having difficulty accessing their repeat prescriptions. You do not need online access but can arrange this monthly by phoning your local Lloyds branch.
For those with online access, repeat prescriptions can be requested through downloadable phone applications such as the NHS app or Evergreen.
A daily duty for diabetics… Check your feet
When you are about to put on your socks, have a good look. If you see any changes, visit your GP immediately
It is a grim statistic: 25 toe, foot and leg amputations are carried out on patients with diabetes every day. There have been 27,465 such operations since 2015 – a significant increase on previous years – and linked to rising numbers of Britons with the blood sugar disease, related to obesity.
Diabetes raises the risk of foot problems because it causes nerve damage and circulation issues. A small wound or sore can easily go unnoticed until infection has set in. And lack of blood supply means it may never heal.
All diabetics are offered an annual NHS foot check to test nerve function and blood supply. These are vital to pick up subtle early signs of a problem. But self-care is also vital: Diabetes UK recommends patients check their feet every day.
So when you are about to put on your socks, have a good look. If you see any changes, visit your GP immediately.
Anyone fancy a nice bowl of cauliflower ice cream? No, me neither. Which is why I didn’t actually give Peekaboo frozen dessert (‘Veggies in every bite’, the creators promise) a second thought when I came across it online last week.
I suppose it’s going to be seen as a healthy ‘treat’ – but a quick look at the nutritional profile reveals the same calorie, sugar and fat content as a tub of Ben & Jerry’s.
I know which I’d prefer.
Email [email protected] or write to Health, The Mail on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT. Dr Ellie can only answer in a general context and cannot respond to individual cases, or give personal replies. If you have a health concern, always consult your own GP.