Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the 2nd most common cause of work absenteeism in India & negatively impacts quality of life reveals survey by HCFI

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  • Medical Practitioners surveyed feel that peppermint oil is a safe and better treatment option that can help alleviate symptoms
  • Over 3000 patients and 300 medical practitioners participated in the survey

Delhi, April 19, 2018: A study conducted by the HCFI, a leading National Health NGO has revealed that about 5-10% of the population surveyed experiences symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) such as abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation or incomplete evacuation. Yet, a majority of them do not seek medical help.

The study aimed at analyzing IBS from the physician and patient’s point of view – awareness about the disease, its impact on day-to-day life and treatment options. It is interesting to note that even though 84.6% of the respondents felt that abdominal pain or other symptoms of IBS cannot be ignored, an overwhelming 58% of them use over-the-counter medications for relief and did not see a doctor. Given the impact of IBS on a person’s day-to-day life, it is important to raise awareness about IBS amongst both the medical fraternity and patients about IBS.

Speaking about the need to raise awareness Dr KK Aggarwal – President HCFI said, “A simple mantra that everyone must remember is that if there is no pain, it can’t be IBS. Raising awareness about the disease incidence is key. ”

Dr. G S Lamba, Chief of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Sri Balaji Action Medical institute, Delhi, opined, “Drinking lots of water and increasing your fiber intake may help regulate IBS symptoms, especially if relaxation methods and other ways to constipation is a problem. Fiber is found in bran, bread, cereal, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Apart from this, regular exercise is also beneficial and so are stress reduction methods or counselling. It is important to not use over-the-counter medications without consulting a specialist. Peppermint oil as an antispasmodic has been found beneficial in managing IBS symptoms.”

Speaking about this, Dr. Uday C Ghoshal, Professor, Gastro Dept, Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduation Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow said, “There is a lack of awareness about IBS in India and the fact that it is one of the leading causes of work absenteeism. Some symptoms of this condition include constipation, diarrhoea or both.Associated psychological disturbances & multiple somatic symptoms are also associated with in a proportion of patients.”

The most common symptom of IBS is abdominal pain with changes in bowel habits (diarrhoea and/or constipation). Abdominal pain is typically crampy and varies in intensity. Some people notice that emotional stress and eating worsen the pain and that having a bowel movement relieves the pain. Women may notice an association between pain episodes and their menstrual cycle.

The results of the survey conducted amongst the medical practitioners on the treatment methodologies for IBS revealed that almost 55.9% of the doctors use a symptom-directed, multidrug approach in the treatment of IBS; 54.5% doctors prescribe antispasmodics; and another 30.8% prescribe antibiotics, antispasmodics.

About 80% of the doctors surveyed believe that an ideal antispasmodic for the treatment of IBS should offer relief from symptoms of abdominal pain/discomfort, bloating/flatulence and complete evacuation and also possess minimum side effects. Peppermint oil has emerged as a good option since almost half of the participating doctors feel that it is effective in relieving abdominal pain, gas, bloating and fecal urgency through its selective effect on the smooth muscles of the intestine.

There is an unmet need in the treatment of IBS, as, despite the wide variety and effective treatments available, most patients do not get appropriate treatment. More widespread knowledge and proper use of available therapies (such as diet restriction and peppermint oil) will enable both the physicians as well as patients in achieving a better quality of life and relief from symptoms.

Some interesting insights from the patient survey include the following.

  • 84.6% said that pain in abdomen and altered bowel habits cannot be ignored
  • 58.3% people self-treat symptoms with over-the-counter drugs
  • 33.3% feel that the condition is not serious enough to contact a doctor
  • 8.3% would seek no treatment at all
  • 46% say IBS hampers their daily life
  • 50% of them said they would take multiple drugs including antibiotics, antispasmodics etc., each time they have an attack
  • 41.6% opted for diet change or probiotics for each attack

Lack of awareness impedes the treatment of celiac disease in India

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Genetic susceptibility is a major factor in the development of this condition

New Delhi, 09th April 2018: According to statistics, celiac disease affects almost 0.7% of the world’s population. In India, about six to eight million Indians are estimated to have this disease, and its prevalence in the North Indian community is 1 in 100.There is a lack of awareness about this condition and the need of the hour is to educate people.

Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. Genetics has a major role in the prevalence of this condition and therefore, children are equally susceptible to it.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “People suffering from celiac disease cannot digest a protein called gluten which is found in barley and wheat flour. Gluten triggers immune system in patients to damage small intestine villi. As a result, patients cannot absorb nutrients from food and remain malnourished which could lead to anemia weight loss and fatigue. Celiac disease patients suffer from fat malabsorption. A gluten free diet is also recommended for patients with wheat allergy dermatitis herpetiformis multiple sclerosis autoimmune disorders autism spectrum disorders ADHD and some behavioral problems. Gluten containing cereals are wheat barley rye oats and triticale. Gluten is also present as a food additive in the form of a flavoring stabilizing or thickening agent. In these conditions one should switch over to gluten free foods.”

Gluten allergy, unlike traditional allergies, cannot be pinned down as its onset is gradual with symptoms that may resemble other conditions: headaches, stomach cramps, bloating, anxiety, depression, and so on. Gluten can gradually erode the villi in the small intestine and prohibit the body from absorbing nutrients from food.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “A person with celiac disease must stay away from items like wheat, rye, semolina, durum, malt and barley. It is a good idea to check labels at the back of packed products to check for traces of gluten. Some items that may contain gluten include canned soups, condiments, salad dressings, candies, and pasta. However, all this does not mean one cannot have variety in meals. It is possible to use alternatives such as rice, sorghum, quinoa, amaranth, bajra, ragi and buckwheat.”

Some HCFI tips.


Switching to a gluten-free diet is a big change and can take some time for a person to get used to. There are many naturally gluten-free foods which are also healthy and delicious. Some of these include the following.

  • Beans, seeds and nuts in their natural, unprocessed form
  • Fresh eggs
  • Fresh meats, fish and poultry (not breaded, batter-coated or marinated)
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Most dairy products

India is still behind in providing access to quality healthcare

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India is still behind in providing access to quality healthcare

Increasing investment in public health and making it a uniform sector for all can help combat this issue

New Delhi, 05 April 2018: As per a recent report, India ranks 154 out of 195 countries in providing healthcare access. Apart from funding, issues such as poor management, corruption, accountability, and ethics compound the problem. The need of the hour is for the government to ensure better access to quality healthcare for the poor and increase its spend on healthcare in a meaningful way.

Healthcare is not an electoral issue in India and government investment in public health has been very poor – at just about 4.7% of its GDP.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “While on the one hand India is a medical tourism destination, on the other, it is pushing its own citizens down to poor access to quality healthcare. There is an urgent need to increase government responsibility and accountability by putting the onus on higher officials and giving them a taste of the same medicine, or lack thereof, as the poor. States such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala can serve as examples. In these, health services are part of the electoral mandate, and therefore, the quality of services is better.”

The theme for World Health Day this year is universal access to quality healthcare. To realize this, it is imperative that all aspects to it are addressed as a whole and not in isolation.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Vice President, CMAAO, said, “The UP government has shown the way forward by mandating that the poor should have access to the same quality of healthcare as government officials. It has insisted that government officials should go where the poor go. Such a move will infuse a sense of responsibility amongst the lawmakers and executors and is a step in the right direction.”

While we continue to demand better access to healthcare services for every Indian citizen, each of you has a responsibility to take care of yourself.

Develop Healthy Habits – Eat right, sleep right, exercise right

Everything in Moderation – Be it drinking, using the cell phone or even sitting in one place, remember to not overdo it

Ancient Wisdom – In addition to physical exercise, do Yoga and Meditation for your mental and spiritual well being and maintain equilibrium. Allow your body to heal itself.

Periodic Check-up – Prevention is better than cure. Early detection of most health problems can help in correcting lifestyles to slow the degeneration process and lead a longer and healthier life.

Avoid smoking – Not only active smoking, but passive too is very harmful for the body. In addition, manage your blood cholesterol, blood pressure as well as diabetes and maintain optimum weight. Limit your salt intake and drinking.

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