Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic, relapsing gastrointestinal problem, characterised by abdominal pain, bloating and changes in bowel habit. While the precise prevalence and incidence depends on the criteria used, all studies agree that it is a common disorder, affecting a substantial proportion of individuals in the general population, and presenting frequently to general practitioners and to specialists. IBS is troublesome, with a significant negative impact on quality of life and social functioning in many patients2-5, but is not known to be associated with the development of serious disease or with excess mortality. IBS generates significant healthcare costs both direct, due to IBS symptoms and associated disorders as well as indirect, due to time off work.
- irritable bowel syndrome