Irritable bowel syndrome racks up an impact on health care spending and quality of life: costing more than $20 billion a year in treatment and its symptoms leading to nearly as many missed work days as the common cold.
In a clinical review of irritable bowel syndrome published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, William D. Chey, M.D., professor of gastroenterology at the University of Michigan Health System explores the causes of the chronic condition and treatments.
Symptoms include stomach pain and altered bowel habits that can be made worse by stress, infections, or certain foods made with carbohydrates.
Up to 90 percent of IBS patients restrict their diet to prevent or improve symptoms such as eliminating gluten or certain carbohydrates.
"During the last five years, lifestyle and dietary interventions have become an increasingly important first-line treatment option," says Chey, M.D., senior author of the clinical review article and accompanying patient tip sheet. "A trusting patient-physician relationship is the cornerstone of managing IBS patients."
IBS is the most common digestive health issue in the nation. About 12 percent of the North American population has IBS, and across the globe it's most common among South Americans. While not life-threatening, IBS can disrupt normal routines.
Diagnosing IBS relies on identifying characteristic symptoms but "as science advances, it's hoped that the confident diagnosis of IBS will be aided by new biomarkers that can rule out or rule in IBS," Chey says.
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