Irritable Bowel Syndrome


Irritable bowel syndrome also referred to as IBS, is one of the most highly prevalent bowel disorders without regard to age and gender of a patient. It is commonly associated with a dysfunctional bowel movement. In addition to it, another common symptom is a pain in the abdomen. The main challenge with this condition is not that is not only that it is related to a significant discomfort but the fact that most of the IBS instances remain undiagnosed – around 75% of all cases (Sayuk, Pharm, & Chang, 2017).

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This issue is critical because the foundation of the treatment of IBS is a relevant diagnosis, so, in case of being undiagnosed, it is extremely complicated to treat the condition accurately. For this reason, the objective of the paper at hand is to review the literature on the diagnosis and treatment of irritable bowel syndrome to conclude whether the matter of concern is properly addressed in research. The paper will be based on three articles on the topic. All of them were selected based on their relevance to the investigated subject and being published within the set timeframe – the last five years – that was necessary for guaranteeing that the sources are up-to-date.

IBS prevalence

To begin with, it is essential to state that IBS is one of the common conditions, as around 9 to 23% of the global population affected by this functional gastrointestinal disorder (Grundmann, 2013; Saha, 2014). What is more, it makes up the primary subgroup in gastroenterology clinics because around 12% of patients in primary care seek professional aid for addressing this health concern (Saha, 2014). This condition is usually caused by diet and lifestyle. However, in some cases, it may be connected to excessive stress – both personal and work-related – and menstruation among women (Grundmann, 2013). Except for abdominal pain and dysfunctional bowel movement, some other signs of IBS include bloating, distension, discomfort, urgency, straining, and myalgia that vary in duration and severity (Grundmann, 2013; Saha, 2014; Sayuk et al., 2017).

Signs and symptom

On the other hand, it is essential to point to the fact that there are different types of this concern, such as IBS with diarrhea, IBS with constipation, and mixed IBS (Grundmann, 2013; Saha, 2014). Still, regardless of the type of the condition, its treatment remains highly symptomatic. It means that it is of extreme importance to diagnose the condition properly to maximize the effectiveness of treatment and the future discomfort connected to ignore the concern. From this perspective, all the authors agree that the initial step in diagnosing is to assess signs of the possible IBS (Grundmann, 2013; Saha, 2014; Sayuk et al., 2017).

For instance, Saha (2014) and Sayuk et al. (2017) point to the criticality of following Rome I, Rome II, and Rome III criteria when diagnosing IBS. Here, it is essential to note that the criteria mentioned above differ in the duration and severity of the symptoms with Rome I connected to experiencing symptoms for 3 days, Rome II for 12 weeks during one year, and Rome III for the last 3 months (Saha, 2014). Because, as mentioned above, the treatment is symptomatic, it commonly varies based on the adherence to the particular group of the Rome criteria.

Diagnosing IBS

Even though the treatment of IBS is symptomatic, it is challenging and complicated (Saha, 2014). It can be explained by several reasons. First and foremost, not all of the instances of IBS are diagnosed. It means that, in some cases, signs of this specific condition are addressed as symptoms of other diseases or even not treated at all that contributes to the prolonged discomfort and the necessity to return to seeking aid on a timely basis (Sayuk et al., 2017). Also, not all treatment programs focus on eliminating the signs of IBS. Instead, some of them make stress-relieving symptoms that are temporary in their effectiveness (Grundmann, 2013). Finally, in most cases, treatment is a complex combination of steps taken to address the challenge.

Approaches to IBS treatment

Based on what was mentioned above, there are several approaches to treating irritable bowel syndrome. The first one is based on medications only. The choice is based on the type of IBS. This approach is mainly characterized by relieving symptoms that, as a result, help to achieve temporary improvements in the patient’s condition (Saha, 2014). Still, even though medications are highly effective, they are not always selected when treating IBS. In some cases, preference is given to altering diet because it is dieting that is believed to be the main cause of the health concern (Sayuk et al., 2017).

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In this case, some lifestyle modifications are recommended. In general, they involve avoiding alcohol and adhering to healthy diet principles (Sayuk et al., 2017). However, it is imperative to point to the fact that to maximize the effectiveness of the treatment and achieve lengthy results, it is advisable to combine the two strategies – modify lifestyle and prescribe medications – because the benefits of each of the two approaches are temporary, so only the combination of the two can be effective (Grundmann, 2013; Saha, 2014; Sayuk et al., 2017). That being said, the issue of IBS and its treatment is properly addressed in modern health care literature.


Grundmann, O. (2013). Recent advances in the diagnosis and treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Research, 2(3), 431-433.

Saha, L. (2014). Irritable bowel syndrome: Pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment, and evidence-based medicine. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 20(22), 6759-6773. doi:10.3748/wjg.v20.i22.6759

Sayuk, G. S., Pharm, R. D., & Chang, L. (2017). Comparison of symptoms, healthcare utilization, and treatment in diagnosed and undiagnosed individuals with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 112, 892-899. doi:10.1038/ajg.2016.574

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