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Identifying and managing irritable bowel syndrome

Colon Diet
Sara Patience looks at how nurses working in primary care settings can manage this common condition

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition, characterised by episodic symptoms such as abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating and changes in bowel habits.1,2 It can have a very detrimental effect on sufferers with many work days lost per year due to sickness because of its associated symptoms.3

IBS is diagnosed according to symptoms and is usually managed in primary care.2 The condition is multi-factorial and whilst there is no cure, symptoms are controlled primarily via diet and medication.1

This article describes IBS, how it might present and what the individual may expect from current guidelines in terms of management. As one of the most common gastrointestinal disorders, it is likely that nurses will encounter patients presenting with IBS symptoms.4 This article will enable them to sign post patients to primary care for effective management of the condition.

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