Symptoms of 50 patients with the irritable bowel syndrome were compared with those of 49 with endoscopically proven peptic ulcer disease and 49 with radiologically or endoscopically proven inflammatory bowel disease using a questionnaire which was administered after the diagnosis was made. Symptoms of bowel dysfunction including pain related to bowel movements were more likely to occur in the irritable bowel syndrome than peptic ulcer disease. Only abdominal distension, straining at stool and scybala, however, were significantly more likely in the irritable bowel syndrome than inflammatory bowel disease. Four symptoms previously shown to be more common in irritable bowel syndrome than in organic abdominal disease were combined. The more of these symptoms that were present, the more likely were the patients to have the irritable bowel syndrome than peptic ulcer disease. Symptoms of gut dysfunction are highly discriminating between irritable bowel syndrome and peptic ulcer disease but less so between irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.
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