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Irritable bowel syndrome negatively impacts quality of life, reveals study

UNI Apr 17, 2018

A study conducted by HCFI, a leading national Health NGO, has revealed that about 5-10 per cent of the population experiences symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome but still a majority of them do not seek medical help.

The study was aimed at analysing IBS from the physician and patient’s point of view, awareness about the disease, its impact on day-to-day life and treatment options. The study also shed light on some interesting aspects like 84.6 per cent of the respondents felt that abdominal pain or other symptoms of IBS cannot be ignored, while an overwhelming 58 per cent of them use over-the-counter medications for relief and did not see a doctor.

Given the impact of IBS on a person’s day-to-day life, it is important to raise awareness about IBS amongst both the medical fraternity and patients about IBS. Speaking about this, Dr Philip Abraham, consultant gastroenterologist at PD Hinduja Hospital, here said, "IBS is a chronic common condition of the digestive system and is second only to the common cold as a cause of absence from work. This condition often begins in young adulthood with women twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with it.

"The most common symptom of IBS is abdominal pain with changes in bowel habits (diarrhea and/or constipation). Abdominal pain is
typically crampy and varies in intensity. Some people notice that emotional stress and eating worsen the pain and that having a bowel
movement relieves the pain. Women may notice an association between pain episodes and their menstrual cycle," he said.  The results of the survey conducted amongst the medical practitioners on the treatment methodologies for IBS revealed that almost 55.9 per cent of the doctors use a symptom-directed, multi-drug approach in the treatment of IBS, 54.5 per cent doctors prescribe  antispasmodics and another 30.8 per cent prescribe antibiotics, antispasmodics.

About 80 per cent of the doctors surveyed believe that an ideal antispasmodic for the treatment of IBS should offer relief from symptoms of abdominal pain/discomfort, bloating/flatulence and complete evacuation and also possess minimum side-effects. Peppermint oil has emerged as a good option since almost half of the participating doctors feel that it is effective in relieving abdominal pain, gas, bloating and fecal urgency through its selective effect on the smooth muscles of the intestine, Dr Abraham added.

Speaking about the need to raise awareness, Dr K K Aggarwal, president of HCFI, said, "A simple mantra that everyone must remember is that if there is no pain, it cannot be IBS. Raising awareness about the disease incidence is key."

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