Irritable bowel syndrome

Lorraine Thom, Pranusha Naicker, Natalie Schellack*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (also known as spastic colon) is a chronic condition that affects the large intestine (colon) and seems to be more prevalent among women. It is often associated with cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, diarrhoea and/or constipation (depending on which sub-type the patient suffers from). Certain alarm features (e.g. rectal bleeding, nocturnal symptoms and family history of colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease) should be ruled out first before IBS can be diagnosed, following an approach of exclusion. The exact pathogenesis of IBS is not clear, but psychosocial factors, abnormal gastrointestinal motility and visceral hypersensitivity play an important role. Psychological distress such as anxiety and depression have also been linked to IBS and are potentially exacerbated by the patients' impaired quality of life whilst living with the condition. Treatment of IBS is directed towards encouraging physical exercise, advising the patient on dietary modification, providing psychosocial support and alleviating the patients' symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-26
Number of pages8
JournalSA Pharmaceutical Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Abdominal pain
  • Chronic constipation
  • Diagnosis
  • Diarrhoea
  • IBS
  • IBS-C
  • IBS-D
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Pathogenesis
  • Spastic colon
  • Therapy


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