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Guideline

Irritable bowel syndrome in adults: diagnosis and management

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Last updated:23rd Feb 2008

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic, relapsing and often life-long disorder. It is characterised by the presence of abdominal pain or discomfort, which may be associated with defaecation and/or accompanied by a change in bowel habit. Symptoms may include disordered defaecation (constipation or diarrhoea or both) and abdominal distension, usually referred to as bloating. Symptoms sometimes overlap with other gastrointestinal disorders such as non-ulcer dyspepsia or coeliac disease. People with IBS present to primary care with a wide range of symptoms, some of which they may be reluctant to disclose without sensitive questioning.

This guideline covers diagnosing and managing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in people aged 18 and over. It details how to accurately diagnose IBS, and aims to improve the quality of life for adults with IBS by promoting effective management using dietary and lifestyle advice, pharmacological therapy and referral for psychological interventions.

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