I had food poisoning and now I’ve developed IBS – help!

food poisoning

I get lots of enquiries from people who are having real struggles with digestive and gut disorders/diseases, and this one came through recently from a lady needing help:

“Hi Linda. I went on holiday to Thailand last year, and got an upset stomach. Since then I’ve had bloating, pain and irregular bowels. I’ve been to see my GP and he tells me I’ve probably got IBS.”

Did you know that the No.1 cause of IBS is a gut infection like gastroenteritis.  Here’s an abstract that explains a little more about the connection between an increased risk of developing IBS after a food poisoning event: Prognosis in post-infective irritable bowel syndrome.

The lady who got a stomach infection in Thailand should have been put on a multi-species probiotic immediately she came back from her holiday, well even before she went to Thailand, as well as other protective natural anti-microbials. If anyone is going to the Far East, Asia, India, Africa, South America and the Caribbean, and they have a sensitive stomach to begin with, I always recommend that a week before they go on holiday they begin taking probiotics and anti-microbials, and take them whilst on holiday.

I’m so pleased this lady contacted me for help, because had she taken the advice of  the health service (GP/Gastro), I fear her symptoms would not have improved. In fact, before too long, she may have been facing a cocktail of medication, potentially causing other health issues. I’m in no way undermining our wonderful health service, but when it comes to functional digestive and gut disorders including IBS, there are gaps in education and awareness of the causes and the treatments, and people that need help are falling through these gaps.

Millions of people are being consigned to a life of utter misery because they are not getting simple advice on bowel hygiene and how to protect their bowel when going to foreign climes.

I try to do my bit – education, awareness, carrying out consultations and colonic treatments in my clinic, recommending targeted supplements, when appropriate, but sometimes the problem seems so huge and I’m only one woman. It’s a growing problem, make no mistake about that. Our poor guts are being assaulted on all sides, not just from gut infections, but from medications like antibiotics and antacids, from eating too much processed food, from hormonal imbalances and from excessive, prolonged stress. I’ve observed this increase in digestive and gut disorders and diseases in the past three decades.

Until we get the health service to understand the HUGE link between gut infections and the increased risk of developing IBS, I fear little will change, but how do we get NICE to recommend probiotics after food poisoning events. It may take decades, and that’s time that millions of people who suffer with IBS haven’t got.

If good bacteria is being washed out due to a gut infection and causing diarrhoea, then it is crucial to get some probiotics back into the gut to calm down the inflammation and to help replenish and re-colonise.

Why can’t Gastroenterologists with all their education see the connection between gut infections and dysbiosis, join up the dots!?  Is it so simple that they can’t see, or it is just that they follow the NICE guidelines, and until they change, they won’t change their recommendations. Where does common sense come into this, and all the research proving that low diversity of gut bacteria can increase the risk of developing IBS.

It goes without saying that ‘red flags’ need to be eliminated and no GP or healthcare practitioner should assume that symptoms are due to a food poisoning event. After all, there are ‘red herrings’ and we must always have our red herring radar on.