DR ELLIE CANNON: My IBS has got worse… is it something more serious?
Q. A few years ago I started having regular stomach upsets and going to the toilet five times a day.
I was diagnosed with IBS and given medication, but the pain is getting worse. My GP is refusing to arrange an MRI or CT scan. Could it be something more serious?
A. Irritable bowel syndrome, also called IBS, can only be diagnosed when other issues have been ruled out. Sadly, there is no specific test that proves someone has IBS, instead we rule out other conditions such as bowel disease and cancer.
The pain in IBS usually changes after going to the toilet, either improved or worsened. Many also have extreme bloating and frequent diarrhoea or constipation. Symptoms are often debilitating, causing huge disruption to sufferers’ lives.
Irritable bowel syndrome, also called IBS, can only be diagnosed when other issues have been ruled out. Some people suffer from symptoms including extreme bloating and frequent diarrhoea or constipation (stock image)
An internal scan wouldn’t be suitable or practical for these symptoms, but a series of blood tests would be useful.
This can rule out the autoimmune condition coeliac disease, highlight anaemia resulting from bowel cancer or show inflammation caused by bowel disease.
If IBS is the cause of symptoms, blood tests will be normal. For absolute clarity, a colonoscopy would be key.
Q. I have rheumatoid arthritis and have been advised to take a drug called methotrexate. I’ve since learned this is chemotherapy: should I be scared?
A. Methotrexate is a type of chemotherapy used in cancer treatment. But it has other uses including treating rheumatoid arthritis, whereby the immune system is ‘overreactive’.
Methotrexate does cause side effects, but rheumatoid arthritis can be seriously distressing, destroying hand function, disfiguring joints and causing tremendous disability and pain. We need a strong drug to fight it.
Methotrexate is a type of chemotherapy used in cancer treatment and can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis. It can suppresses the body’s immune system, calming inflammation, swelling and pain, as well as stop long term damage leading to severe disability (stock image)
DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION FOR DR ELLIE?
Email DrEllie@mailonsunday.co.uk 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.
Methotrexate suppresses the body’s immune system, calming inflammation, swelling and pain.
It also stops the long term damage leading to severe disability. Rather than dealing with symptoms, it is a drug that targets the root of the problem – the immune system.
Monitoring via regular blood tests is important, given the significant side effects which include mouth ulcers, shortness of breath and infections that lead to a temperature or sore throat.
I wasn’t at all shocked to learn that the leading man of the world’s most loved television series, Game Of Thrones, is suffering from work-related stress.
Clearly not even the rich and famous are immune to the toxic toll of a condition also known as ‘burnout’, which affects many of my patients.
Game of Thrones star Kit Harington recently checked in to a rehabilitation centre, citing chronic stress related to his incredibly demanding job. Burnout – feeling exhausted, negative and detached from your job – is now considered a medical condition by the WHO
Kit Harington who plays Jon Snow, above, in the fantasy series, checked in to a rehabilitation centre, citing chronic stress related to his incredibly demanding job.
Burnout – feeling exhausted, negative and detached from your job – is now considered a medical condition by the World Health Organisation and can increase the risk of heart disease, psychiatric issues and stroke.
Follow Kit’s lead: if you’re feeling run-down and miserable, don’t be afraid to ask for help.