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10 minute clinic: irritable bowel syndrome

This handy 10-minute clinic is designed to act as a quick reference guide that will help you when advising customers suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The flowchart below will lead you through the decision-making process to help you respond to customer queries

At a glance

Whenever you talk to any customer, remember WWHAM:

Who is the medicine for?

What are the symptoms?

How long have the symptoms been present?

What Action has already been taken?

Are they taking any other Medication for this or any other reason?

You don’t have to ask these questions in order, and a customer might give you some of this information without you asking. As long as you get them into the conversation, you should be able to find out the information you need in order to make a recommendation.

The golden rule to remember is: if in doubt, refer to your pharmacist. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for their advice as they have a lot of information about products and symptoms to hand that you may not be aware of.

Self care tips

•  Eat small, regular meals every four to five hours 
 Don’t skip meals 
 Avoid large meals and rich/ fatty foods late at night 
 Eat slowly, chewing food properly 
 Drink sufficient fluids 
 Ensure adequate daily fibre intake and reduce the amount of fat in the diet 
 Limit intake of caffeinated, fizzy and alcoholic drinks 
 Quit smoking 
 Take regular exercise 
 Manage stress 
 Take a probiotic (example: Biokult). Probiotics contain live bacteria that complement the existing gut flora naturally present in a healthy person’s digestive system. 

When to refer to the pharmacist 

  • Abdominal discomfort that lasts for over a week 
  • Suspected undiagnosed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) 
  • Pregnant women 
  • Pain that becomes more frequent or more severe 
  • Pain felt in or between the shoulder blades, with nausea 
  • Recent injury to the abdominal area 
  • Pain with difficulty breathing 
  • Fever 
  • Rigid abdomen that is tender to the touch 
  • Vomiting blood 
  • Blood in the stools 
  • Inability to empty bowels, especially if vomiting. 

  Signposting

 The IBS Network: 0114 272 3253
•  Guts UK: 020 7486 0341 
•  The Association of UK Dietitians: 0121 200 8080
•  NHS Choices.




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