The Problem of IBS

For UK healthcare professionals only.

Review article: irritable bowel syndrome.

Camilleri M, Choi MG. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 1997;11(1):3–15.

This review article highlights that around 20% of the population has IBS at any one time and that IBS is the most common gastrointestinal disease diagnosed by gastroenterologists. The authors note that management of IBS is “based on positive diagnosis of the symptom complex, limited exclusion of underlying organic disease and institution of a therapeutic trial.”

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Impact of irritable bowel syndrome on personal relationships and working practices

Silk DB. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2001;13(11):1327–1332.

This paper highlights the significant impact that IBS has on patient’s ability to function on both a social and professional level. The author analysed over 1500 questionnaires completed by IBS sufferers whose diagnosis had been made by a GP or hospital specialist. Just under half (45%) of respondents said that their sex life was affected by IBS, and a similar percentage said that they had needed time off work, with 12% stopping work altogether.

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Health-related quality of life associated with irritable bowel syndrome: comparison with other chronic diseases.

Frank L, Kleinman L, Rentz A, et al. Clin Ther 2002;24(4):675–689.

In this study, the authors looked at how health-related quality of life compared in patients with IBS and other chronic disease states. IBS was found to be associated with significantly impaired quality of life as compared with healthy individuals in the US population. IBS also had greater impairments in quality of life when they were compared against others with gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, asthma and migraine. However, IBS patients had better quality of life than people who suffered from panic disorder or rheumatoid arthritis.

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Clinical practice: Irritable bowel syndrome

Mayer EA. N Engl J Med 2008;358(16):1692–1699.

In this short clinical review paper, Dr. Mayer gives a practical guide to IBS. The evaluation of patients and differential diagnosis of the disorder from other likely causes is covered, followed by pharmacological and nonpharmacological approaches to treatment. A case vignette is used to illustrate the problem of IBS and the challenges clinicians face in treating this functional bowel disorder.

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Somatic comorbidities of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic analysis

Riedl A, Schmidtmann M, Stengel A, et al. J Psychosom Res 2008;64(6):573–582.

In this systematic review, the authors looked published papers from the past 25 years. Their aim was to review what comorbidities had been reported in patients with IBS and to see if there were any common pathological mechanisms that could be found. A variety of comorbidities were found, with almost half of all patients with IBS suffering from another gastrointestinal (GI) disorder. These included functional dyspepsia, gastro-oesophageal reflux disease, functional constipation and anal incontinence. Other non-GI problems found included fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic pelvic pain, occurring in up to two-thirds of IBS patients.

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