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IBS - abdominal pain predominant

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger HendersonReviewed on 29.04.2024 | 4 minutes read

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is incredibly common with numbers suggesting it is present in up to 2 in 10 people. Symptoms tend to present when people are in their twenties or thirties, and it is usually possible to make a diagnosis with your doctor based on symptoms rather than endless tests and investigations.

Doctor’s advice

Typical Symptoms

IBS can constantly rumble on with mild symptoms or flare up and cause fairly debilitating symptoms. Fortunately, IBS does not cause any serious health implications, but it can have an impact on peoples day to day lives. The predominant symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome vary from person to person. Some struggle with constipation, others with diarrhoea, and for some, pain and bloating, with others varying between episodes of a combination of these.

If the main or most common symptom you suffer from is abdominal pain, then this is known as abdominal pain predominant IBS, where people suffer from pain that tends to come and go, which some people describe as spasmodic. It can occur anywhere in the stomach area and can often improve after passing stool or wind. The severity of the pain varies between people and also between episodes of pain. Around one-third of people with IBS suffer from abdominal pain predominant IBS.

Healthwords pharmacists' top tips

Treatment options for abdominal-pain dominant IBS are aimed at relieving the individual or particular combinations of symptoms.

Painful abdominal cramps

To relieve painful abdominal cramps or spasms, there are preparations such as Buscopan, which contains Hyoscine butylbromide, a potent agent that relaxes the smooth muscle in the gastrointestinal tract and relieves painful spasms and cramps associated with IBS.

Alternative antispasmodic agents to Buscopan, contain Mebeverine (brand name Colofac), or Alverine (brand name Spasmonyl). Both of which are available from behind the pharmacy counter or on prescription for larger quantities. It is important that IBS is ideally first diagnosed by your doctor if you are a first-time user to rule out other causes before using these products.

Combination symptoms

If you have a combination of symptoms such as abdominal cramps and diarrhoea or pain caused by trapped wind or bloating associated with diarrhoea, then a combination product such as Imodium Dual Action Relief caplet might be ideal. The active ingredients include Loperamide 2mg to reduce the frequency of loose motions and Simeticone 125mg to relieve the painful bloating and trapped wind for short-term use.

Alternatives for soothing IBS abdominal pain due to cramps or bloating

Wind-eze chewable tablets or capsules are also an effective treatment to help pass trapped gas and pressure out of the body. They are fairly safe to take and do not generally interact with other medicines.

More gentle natural alternatives that people find effective for settling the stomach include peppermint tea or a digestive, carminative homemade tea with a combination of some freshly grated ginger and peppermint or spearmint leaves in freshly boiled water.

If you are on the go, then there are also more concentrated Peppermint oil capsule preparations such as Colpermin Capsules, which are in a slow-release form, or other brands such as BuscoMint or Mintec capsules. They are all effective in reducing abdominal cramps and bloating.

Pharmacist recommended products

IBS - abdominal pain, cramp and bloating predominant Health Kit
Effective relief for
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Reduces spasms and bloating
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Relieves abdominal pain from cramp
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Reduce motion frequency
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Relieves trapped wind
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Recommended by pharmacist
Why this Health Kit

This Health Kit contains:

  • Buscopan IBS relief tablets (20)
  • Colpermin IBS capsules (20)
  • Imodium Dual Action Relief Tablets (6)

IBS symptoms can cause pain, spasms and bloating at almost any point between the groin, the navel and the sides. It is often accompanied by diarrhoea or constipation, bloating, and trapped wind.

Taking into account the spectrum of symptoms with IBS, treatment options for IBS are focused on relieving the specific combination of symptoms at the time.

This Health Kit treats IBS symptoms that are predominantly cramping and painful bloating, as well as controlling flatulence or mild diarrhoea where necessary.

This Health Kit aims to:

  • Relieve lower abdominal pain and cramps by relaxing the muscles
  • Relieve the symptoms of trapped wind and painful bloating
  • Help re-establish normal bowel movement frequency where necessary.

Buscopan IBS Relief Tablets contain the active ingredient hyoscine butylbromide, which is derived from natural hyoscine, extracted from the duboisia plant. Hyoscine butylbromide is from the family of drugs known as antispasmodics that provide effective relief from stomach pain. This product is suitable for those who have previously been diagnosed with IBS by a doctor.

Colpermin IBS Relief Capsules are an antispasmodic used to relieve spasms and cramps in the large bowel in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

The capsules contain peppermint oil, which relaxes the spasm of the bowel wall. It also relieves pain and allows pockets of gas, which may have made you feel bloated, to pass along the bowel and out of the body.

Imodium Dual Action Relief Tablets contain two active ingredients. Loperamide to control diarrhoea from overactive gut motility and Simeticone, an antiflatulent. Simeticone works by combining tiny gas bubbles in the gut to form bigger bubbles, releasing trapped air and relieving painful bloating.

Using any combination of these three products can help relieve cramping and bloating symptoms and help control diarrhoea and flatulence when necessary to help you get on with your day comfortably.

**Note: Always read the information leaflets and specific product information before purchasing, as some products may not be suitable for all patients.

This is especially so if you are taking any other medicines or suffer from any other medical conditions. If you are unsure about anything, please speak to your local pharmacist or doctor or another qualified health practitioner.**

When should I see my doctor?

You should book a routine doctor’s appointment if you are experiencing symptoms of IBS. This is so that the doctor can help rule out any other causes of your symptoms and confirm IBS as the likely cause. There is no specific test for IBS and so it is what is called a diagnosis of exclusion, where other conditions are ruled out so that IBS can then be confirmed as the diagnosis. If you have severe pain that isn’t settling, unexplained weight loss, a fever, feeling generally unwell or any blood in your stools you should book an urgent visit with your doctor or call NHS 111.

What will my doctor do?

The doctor will ask you about your symptoms, your medical history, any relevant family medical history, and what medications you are currently taking. They will have a feel of your abdomen, check your temperature, and potentially do other tests such as a blood test or a stool sample.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 29.04.2024
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