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Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome in adults

INTRODUCTION

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic functional disorder of the gastrointestinal tract characterized by chronic abdominal pain and altered bowel habits in the absence of an organic disease. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of adults and adolescents have symptoms consistent with IBS and although not all individuals with IBS seek medical care, patients with IBS make up a significant percentage of all outpatient visits to gastroenterologists and other healthcare providers [1].

This topic will review the management of IBS. Our recommendations are largely consistent with the American College of Gastroenterology guidelines (table 1). The clinical manifestations and diagnosis of IBS are discussed separately. (See "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome in adults".)

DEFINITIONS

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – Irritable bowel syndrome is defined as recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort at least three days per month in the last three months with two or more of the following: improvement with defecation, onset associated with a change in frequency of stool, or onset associated with a change in form (appearance) of stool [2].

Subtypes of IBS have been defined as follows:

IBS with constipation – IBS with constipation (IBS-C) is defined as the presence of hard or lumpy stools with ≥25 percent of bowel movements and loose or watery stools with <25 percent of bowel movements.

                                

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Literature review current through: Sep 2014. | This topic last updated: Oct 2, 2014.
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