WHAT DO WE MEAN BY FUNCTIONAL BOWEL DISORDER?
The gut is in fact one long organ of digestion. It runs from the mouth to the anus and is approximately six metres in length. Although sections of it become specialised for different activities, it is essentially a hollow muscular tube. For effective digestion to occur, the gut must propel ingested material all the way along its length, and prevent excessive back flow throughout.
The gastro-intestinal (GI) organs are part of a very primitive system, and the first that organisms developed during evolution. The connections to and from it therefore are very intricate and variable, particularly those that link it to the nervous system and brain. The gut and brain in fact often act as a single highly complex unit (brain-gut-axis) and this also governs how sensitive we are, and hence how we respond to certain provocations.
The gut also contains billions of bacteria and other microscopic organisms. Many of these are essential to help us with our digestion, however too many of the wrong type, and problems can occur. We are beginning to increasingly realise how important this factor is the health of our GI system and hence our general health.
Sometimes, the function of the gut does not as work effectively as it can. Problems can arise, and the brain perceives some of these as symptoms. How bad these symptoms are depended on how affected the function is, and how the brain perceives the signals it receives.
Some distinct conditions with certain characteristics are defined as a specific disease such as reflux and certain motility disorders. In many cases, however there are a combination of problems which do not neatly fit into a disease category, but fit in somewhere along a wide spectrum of bowel disorder.
Our patients say . . .
I wanted to say thank you for everything you have done for me by offering me the LINX Surgery and completely changing my quality of life for the better.
Following my Heller Cardiomyotomy I am pleased to tell you that at this moment it would appear to be 100% successful. It is no exaggeration to say it has transformed my life.
You were so very kind and patient listening to my doubts, and although I know that I had to make the decision myself, you said just enough to enable me to make the right one.
I cannot thank you enough for your great care through my surgery. Great to be able to eat normally.
A quick note to say thank you for my cholecystectomy – absolutely brilliant.
I would just like to say a huge thank you for the exceptional support I received from you. I’m happy to say I am eating normally again and am totally reflux free. Keep on doing the wonderful job you do.
I would like to thank you so much for your help skill and expertise in dong this [abdominal wall hernia repair] and giving me my life back.
Thank you very much for operating on my father. Your skills have made a huge impact on Dad and he is visibly much better with his rosy cheeks returning to his face. He is now able to enjoy his farmhouse dinners, much to all our pleasure.
I have no acid reflux problems and it has made such a difference for my lifestyle. Thank you very, very much for all that you have done for me.
My surgery has been more successful than I ever hoped for. From the time I woke up in the theatre recovery are to find I was able to take deep breath. I had not realised that I did not have the freedom to breathe deeply before the surgery. I simply thought that I was unfit as I was unable to exercise comfortably swimming, walking or Pilates. I feel so well and my quality of life has improved beyond any hopes.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF FUNCTIONAL BOWEL DISORDER?
There is an enormous range of symptoms which fit in with functional bowel disorder. Many overlaps with symptoms of common gastro-intestinal conditions including reflux, hiatus hernia, gallstones, ulcer disease and diverticular disease. Indeed, many of these conditions also exist on the background of functional bowel disorder, so it may be difficult to differentiate between them.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a certain type of functional bowel disorder. Some of the common symptoms include pain or discomfort in the chest, upper, middle or lower abdomen; bloating; heartburn; regurgitation; difficulty in swallowing; nausea; vomiting; diarrhoea or loose motions; constipation and problems with defecation. These can be very variable, and come and go, sometimes being extremely severe and sometimes not be there at all. Several symptoms can occur at the same time.
All sorts of factors may affect these symptoms including diet, activities, mood, stress, anxiety and general health. If symptoms deteriorate or are not well controlled, then this can have a profound and negative detrimental impact of quality of life and wellbeing. Functional bowel disorders may also affect other body systems (e.g. respiratory, immune) and result in nutritional deficiencies and psychological problems.