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Julie asked...

My doctor is diagnosing IBS but at times I have issues with my skin and itchy eyes...

My doctor is diagnosing IBS but at times I have issues with my skin and itchy eyes - could this be IBD?

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The answer

The issues with your skin and itchy eyes are not symptoms normally associated with IBS you are more likely to have some of the following:

  • Pain and discomfort may occur in different parts of the tummy (abdomen). Pain usually comes and goes. The length of each bout of pain can vary greatly. The pain often eases when you pass stools (faeces) or wind. Many people with IBS describe the pain as a spasm or colic. The severity of the pain can vary from mild to severe, both from person to person, and from time to time in the same person.
  • Bloating and swelling of your abdomen may develop from time to time. You may pass more wind than usual.

Changes in stools:

  • Some people have bouts of diarrhoea, and some have bouts of constipation.
  • Some people have bouts of diarrhoea that alternate with bouts of constipation.
  • Sometimes the stools become small and pellet-like. Sometimes the stools become watery or more loose. At times, mucus may be mixed with the stools.
  • There may have a feeling of not emptying the back passage (rectum) after going to the toilet.
  • Some people have urgency, which means they have to get to the toilet quickly. A morning rush is common. That is, they feel an urgent need to go to the toilet several times shortly after getting up. This is often during and after breakfast.

Other symptoms which sometimes occur - include:

  • Feeling sick (nausea).
  • Headache.
  • Belching.
  • Poor appetite.
  • Tiredness.
  • Backache.
  • Muscle pains.
  • Feeling quickly full after eating.
  • Heartburn.
  • Bladder symptoms (an associated irritable bladder).

You have not specifically mentioned that the skin issues you are having is a rash so there is the possibility that these two conditions are unrelated but we would suggest that you go back to your GP to have further tests to help rule out other conditions such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis as both of these conditions list itchy eyes and a skin rash as a symptom. The symptoms of these other diseases can sometimes be confused with IBS. Simple tests can be done and commonly include:

  • Full blood count (FBC) - to rule out lack of iron in the blood (anaemia), which is associated with various gut disorders.
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or C-reactive protein (CRP) - which can show if there is inflammation in the body (which does not occur with IBS).
  • A blood test for coeliac disease.
  • A stool test to look for a protein called faecal calprotectin. This may be present if you have Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, but is not present in IBS.

We hope that this has answered your question and if we can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses