HCPLive Network

Solving the IBS Riddle

 
For years, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has been a thorn in the side of patients, physicians, and pharmacists.
 
Defined as a gastrointestinal disorder characterized by recurring symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating, and altered bowel function in the absence of structural, inflammatory, or biochemical abnormalities, IBS is difficult to diagnose and often doesn’t respond to treatment.
 
For patients, learning how to manage the condition can be an ordeal. However, findings from a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine may offer hope for those who suffer from IBS.
 
Research has shown that IBS patients make more visits to physicians, undergo more diagnostic tests, are prescribed more medications, miss more workdays, have lower work productivity, are hospitalized more frequently, and account for greater overall direct health care costs than patients without the condition, according to the American College of Gastroenterology.
 
All of this can have a severe impact on quality of life, making it all the more critical that the condition is properly treated.
 
The problem is that IBS is a symptom complex. Because no reliable markers have been identified, the effects of pharmacotherapy are typically assessed by asking patients to report whether their symptoms were adequately relieved.
 
IBS, as many clinicians can attest, can be challenging.
 
Current pharmacologic treatments—which include antispasmodics, antidepressants, antidiarrheals, serotonin reuptake inhibitors, probiotics, antibiotics, over-the-counter supplements, laxatives, complementary and alternative treatments, and lifestyle changes—are aimed at relieving the predominant GI symptom. The goal, however, should be to improve overall symptoms, including altered stool frequency and consistency, abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating, and quality of life.
 
 
This is an excerpt of an article that was originally published in Pharmacy Times. To read the full text of this article, click here.
 
 

Further Reading
Adequate daily fiber intake confers multiple health benefits, including improved management of irritable bowel syndrome.
Expert advice from the 2013 AGA-ASGE Clinical Congress of Gastroenterology and Hepatology on managing diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, and other symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Study shows gluten alters bowel functions in patients with IBS-D and that removal of gluten from the diet may reduce the frequency of bowel movements.
Results from a 12-week study show patients treated with eluxadoline report decreased abdominal pain and improved bowel movement frequency and urgency.
Fear avoidance contributes to disability and pain in children with functional abdominal pain but not inflammatory bowel disease, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society.
Researchers at the Hanyang University College of Medicine set the record straight on the association between IBS symptoms and methane and hydrogen gas produced by intestinal fermentation of lactulose and excreted in the breath during lactulose breath test.
In a clinical review published in Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology, researchers from Iwate Medical University in Japan evaluated the long-term safety and efficacy of the novel serotonin-receptor agonist ramosetron in patients suffering from diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D).
More Reading