IBS AND THE NERVOUS SYSTEM: NERVOUS DIARRHOEANervous diarrhoea is frequent loose bowel movements not caused by infection, irritation or food allergy. It can be one urgent movement on waking, or several small movements throughout the day. These can be with or without pain and they can often leave the sufferer exhausted.Nervous diarrhoea is caused by the nerves to the bowel getting the wrong messages. When the red alert button is pressed and the sympathetic nervous system springs into action, at first the message is to suspend activity in the bowel, but if the message carries on too long and becomes Tm very scared’, instead of, ‘I need to act’, so much adrenalin is poured in that the bowel opens. This is what is happening in nervous diarrhoea – the body is so hyped-up that the bowel cannot relax. Some people have to rush up each morning with diarrhoea – their parasympathetic nervous system is still too active even when they sleep.Is your bowel responding as though you were running from the charging bull all the time? If so, you are the only one who can do anything about this. The behaviour of your boss, your spouse or worry over money may be your ‘charging bull’ but whatever it is no person or situation can affect your nervous system unless you allow them to do so. As far as relationships go, if you have openly and honestly declared to the person concerned that you find their behaviour to you distressing, then it is up to you after that. If you spend your time trying to make those around you change then you are in for a frustrating time and you deserve diarrhoea. On the other hand if you change your reaction to the stress and look after your body in spite of it, you will realize that far from the action of your bowel being out of your control, you can learn how to restore it to normal functioning.*61\326\8*
Q. Now comes the important question of diagnosis. What is the story here?
A. The first essential point is that any person with any of the tell-tale symptoms which indicate a gastrointestinal disorder should seek medical attention. It is fruitless self-medicating, such as throwing down some antacid pills or mixture or powders in the hope that ‘it might go away’. Certainly, if there have been dietetic indiscretions — in short, plain stupidity in one’s eating habits, such as eating the kind of food that history has shown produces a tummy upset, then the penalty is usually patently obvious for anyone to see. Some self-medication for a day or so will often help, and eliminate the grotty stomach. But with ongoing symptoms, attending the doctor is advisable.
Q. What happens when the patient visits the doctor?
A. Usually the physician will take a fairly detailed medical history. He will try and elicit a sequential description of the symptoms suffered, how long they have been present, their intensity, and so forth.
Q. Does he examine the patient?
A. The physical examination follows the history taking routine. The answers to his questions will give him a clue what to seek next. He will concentrate mainly on the abdomen, for this is the spot where symptoms are worst. He will note your reaction to his feelings and proddings (or palpation as the medics say). Always give reliable answers to his queries; it is pointless giving false ones, for the only person to suffer from this is you, the patient. If there is pain with pressure, say so. Do not try and be brave, this is foolish in the business of diagnosis. Often from the history and examination the doctor will have a pretty good idea of the diagnosis.
I might add that these days most doctors will also give the other systems of the body a quick once over — such as checking blood pressure, the heart, the urine, and other systems. Occasionally other disorders may be picked up at the same time, and this is always fruitful.
Q. What comes next?
A. If the physician suspects an ulcer, he will then proceed with the next step to confirm it. Here, there are two options open.
Q. What special examinations are carried out?
A. The first is called a barium meal x-ray of the stomach and duodenum. The second is called an endoscopic examination of the same organs.
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