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New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Date:12/18/2008

Group reviews conventional and alternative therapies to treat irritable bowel symptoms

THURSDAY, Dec. 18 (HealthDay News) -- A leading organization of gastroenterologists has released new guidelines on the management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

The guidelines, issued by the American College of Gastroenterology and published in the January issue of The American Journal of Gastroenterology, essentially replace a 2002 document.

"The world of IBS is changing quickly because of more therapies and an increased awareness. It is considered a 'real disease,' " said Dr. Lawrence Brandt, chairman of the group's IBS task force and chief of gastroenterology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. "A lot of new drugs are being developed, and a lot of work still needs to be done, but there's enough new information since the last time."

An estimated 7 percent to 10 percent of people have IBS, which can involve abdominal pain, bloating and other discomfort, including constipation and diarrhea. IBS affects both quality of life and productivity for millions of people.

Most IBS treatments relieve symptoms rather than resolve the condition itself.

The new guidelines encompass existing evidence on conventional treatments for IBS as well as new therapies (probiotics, for example) and alternative therapies (acupuncture and more). In summary, the updated guidelines say:

  • Fiber products -- including psyllium, anti-spasmodic medications and peppermint oil -- may be effective, at least in some people. "The evidence is poor, but some patients say they feel better," Brandt said. He cautioned that fiber should be used carefully in people with narrowed colons.
  • More data is needed on probiotics, live microorganisms (usually bacteria) similar to the "good" organisms found normally in the gut. "This is a very hot topic but an exceedingly complicated subject," Brandt said. Res
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