Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common disturbance of bowel motility that results in intermittent and recurrent pain / discomfort and altered bowel habit.

There are considerable differences between individuals in the severity and consequences of symptoms. In severe cases it is a clinically important
condition with potential to affect quality of life and productivity.

Advances in research have led to increased understanding of the events that lead to symptoms, and development of symptom-based strategies that allow a confident diagnosis to be made. This process may rule out the need for invasive investigations in the majority of patients.

A variety of simple measures, that may help to retrain the bowel, are usually recommended to patients with mild symptoms. These steps are usually not helpful in patients with severe symptoms who may benefit from specific interventions directed at the consequences of altered motility, or centrally acting treatments that reduce painful symptoms. 

In some cases dietary manipulation, such as excluding lactose, may be beneficial. A recent advance has been a low FODMAP diet.

For further information see the Gastroenterological Society of Australia website.