An Explanation of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

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An Explanation of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Explained

Trial results show significant improvements using Symprove for IBS-SSS total score, pain, and bowel habit over patients treated with placebo.

What is IBS ?

Scientist with miscroscopeIrritable Bowel Syndrome is the most common of all gastrointestinal diseases and is present in around 20% of the UK population at any given time. It accounts for about 40% of all referrals to hospital based gastroenterologists in the UK (and elsewhere) and alarmingly, once the diagnosis is made, over 90% of patients still have symptoms five years later.

Affecting twice as many women as men, IBS usually starts in the late teens to twenties and fluctuates in intensity over time. Due to the nature of the symptoms it can be embarrassing to discuss and as a result, the percentage of people suffering from IBS at any given time is likely to be higher than reported. Key symptoms include, stomach cramps and pain, diarrhoea, constipation and bloating, with many patients being defined as having either ‘diarrhoea’ or ‘constipation’ predominant IBS.

IBS causes a great deal of discomfort and distress for many people and whilst it is not life-threatening, it can take a serious toll on the quality of an individual’s life.People are increasingly taking longer periods of time off work due to IBS and with so many of the population affected, the scale of problem on the economy, and the burden on the NHS is considerable.

Theories include reactions to food, stress, abnormal motility or visceral hyper-sensitivity, the absorption of too much fluid in the digestive tract, bacterial overgrowth and the overuse of antibiotics. As a result, GPs and gastroenterologists find it difficult to advise a course of action.

DoctorFunded by the NHS Foundation Trust, the King's College Hospital IBS trial, showed treatment with Symprove was associated with significant improvements in symptom severity (IBS-SSS) as compared with placebo, addressing all of the IBS symptoms in a patient.

Guidelines recommend treating the symptoms rather than trying to find the cause. The available treatment options using existing psychotropic agents, serotonin receptor agonists and antagonists, are limited to the most severe cases and their use is not without side effects. Some drugs prescribed for IBS are known to cause dependency, sickness or extreme drowsiness and in a few cases, agents have been taken off the market by pharmaceutical manufacturers due to serious adverse affects. For patients who do not fall into the ‘severe’ category and where no dietary intolerance is shown following tests, GPs can only offer general guidance on diet, lifestyle and possible over-the-counter treatments.

This leaves the majority of people suffering from IBS with little option but to try and find a solution themselves.

For a lot of people, it is common to attempt to control their symptoms with either/or a combination of better diet, stress management, and over-the-counter medicines or alternative remedies. However, many only find limited relief.

It is not unusual for a person with IBS symptoms to buy and consume numerous products for their condition and to spend significant amounts of money in pursuit of relief. These include antispasmodic drugs although many are associated with substantial anti-cholinergic side effects. People suffering with constipation dominant IBS usually start off with laxatives and those who are diarrhoea predominant try obstipants. However, the astonishing fact is that a lot of these treatments are of unproven efficacy in the treatment of IBS, or are associated with significant side effects.

Many patients, having tried these treatments repeatedly over a period of time, remain dissatisfied and a large number seek alternative approaches such as a change in diet, complementary therapies and probiotics.

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