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Diagnosis and management of irritable bowel syndrome

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Irritable bowel syndrome is more common in women Irritable bowel syndrome is more common in women

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic relapsing condition often managed in the primary care setting. It is considered to be a functional gastrointestinal disorder and there is some evidence that it may be related to visceral hypersensitivity.1 The symptoms of IBS can vary and the condition often affects those in their 20s and 30s.1 Prevalence may be up to 20% of the population and it most commonly affects females.1

Irritable bowel syndrome may be associated with abdominal pain or discomfort and bloating. The syndrome might be accompanied by a change in bowel habit, either diarrhoea and/or constipation, as well as difficulties with defecation.1 Generally, abdominal discomfort or pain tends to be relieved when the bowels have been opened.

At least two of the following features should be present to diagnose IBS: altered stool passage, which may mean incomplete evacuation or straining; abdominal bloating; symptoms exacerbated by eating; and passage of mucus.1 The diagnosis can be considered if there have been persistent symptoms over six months.2

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