Clinical update

Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common, relapsing and often lifelong disorder that causes bouts of stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.

Essential facts

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common, relapsing and often lifelong disorder that causes bouts of stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation. It is thought to affect up to one in five people at some point in their life, and around twice as many women as men. While IBS can affect people of all ages, including children, it usually develops between age 20-30.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published new quality standards on IBS in adults. These are expected to contribute to improvements in quality of life and limit unnecessary hospital attendances.

Picture credit: SPL

Common symptoms include abdominal pain and discomfort, a change in bowel habits, such as diarrhoea, constipation or both, stomach bloating, excessive flatulence, and passing mucus. Other problems include lethargy, nausea, back pain, dyspareunia and incontinence.

Symptoms vary between individuals, but are usually

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