1Professor of Medicine Director of the GI Epidemiology Training Program University of Michigan School of Medicine Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is characterized by chronic intermittent abdominal pain and associated diarrhea (IBS-D), constipation (IBS-C), or both. IBS can significantly impact patient function and quality of life. The diagnosis of IBS is based on the presence of characteristic symptoms, the exclusion of concerning features, and selected tests to exclude organic diseases that can mimic IBS. The pathophysiology of IBS remains incompletely understood, and new contributing factors have been identified over the past decade. Altered gut immune activation, intestinal permeability, and the intestinal and colonic microbiome may be important factors. Poorly absorbed carbohydrates have been implicated in triggering IBS symptoms. Increasing evidence supports the benefit of a diet low in fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs). Although there are several randomized controlled trials of probiotics in IBS, they are typically poorly designed and have not consistently demonstrated efficacy. Until recently, there were few effective treatments for IBS-D. Data from recent clinical trials support the use of rifaximin, eluxadoline, and peppermint oil. Options for the treatment of IBS-C include lubiprostone and linaclotide.