Irritable bowel syndrome can be difficult to manage. Identification of precipitating or contributing factors is important, and a trial of medication may be warranted in patients who have ongoing problems.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common disorder of the digestive tract. It often leads to considerable healthcare use, decreased quality of life and increased absenteeism from work.
- Visualisation of the entire colon should be performed in patients presenting for the first time with symptoms of suspected IBS after the age of 40 or 50 years.
- ‘Postinfective irritable bowel syndrome’ is a well recognised entity. Symptoms may persist for months or even years.
- Medications are important causes of constipation and diarrhoea.
- The treatment of IBS is based on the specific pattern of symptoms, particularly the predominant symptom.
- When starting treatment with fibre supplements, start with a low amount and increase slowly to avoid side effects.