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Conditions: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

What is IBS?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a functional gut disorder.

Sufferers typically experience abdominal pain or discomfort that is associated with either diarrhoea or constipation, or an alternating combination of both.

Treatment recommendations

The precise cause of IBS is poorly understood, and predominantly current treatment is focussed on managing the physiological symptoms. However, IBS has been consistently associated with a range of psychological dimensions. Research has reliably demonstrated that IBS sufferers are much more likely, for example, to have experienced childhood adversity than non-sufferers, and the onset of symptoms often closely follows an intensely stressful life event. Research has also consistently found that the greater the degree of psychological distress the more severe the IBS symptoms. There is now a clearer understanding of how psychological or emotional pain might translate into physical discomfort. Ongoing research on the subject has, therefore, strengthened the case for psychological therapies to form a key feature of IBS treatment. Psychological treatments have demonstrated efficacy in relieving symptom severity and improving quality of life to people living with IBS.

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