Irritable bowel syndrome
AbstractIrritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is best defined as a functional
disorder, characterised by abdominal pain or discomfort and associated with abnormal defaecation. It is extremely common, with a worldwide prevalence of 10 - 15%.1-3 IBS is more common in women than in men and typically presents in the third or fourth decades of life. It rarely manifests over the age of 50.1-3 There is substantial overlap with other ‘functional diseases’ such as fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis and non-ulcer dyspepsia.1-3 IBS is defined by symptom-based diagnostic criteria known as the ‘Rome criteria’.
The cardinal feature is abdominal discomfort, which is usually intermittent, peri-umbilical, and cramp-like, and typically relieved by defaecation. Invariably abnormal defaecation is present: diarrhoea, constipation, altered stool passage (urgency, incomplete defaecation or straining) or rectal passage of mucus. Patients frequently experience bloating, distension or increased gas production. Symptoms are often exacerbated by stress. On the basis of the predominant bowel habit IBS can be categorised into the following subgroups: IBS with constipation (IBS-C) – more commom in women, IBS with diarrhoea (IBS-D) – more common
in men, and IBS with mixed bowel habits (IBS-M).
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