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Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • Syndrome of abdominal pain or discomfort associated with altered bowel habits and no other pathology explaining symptoms
  • Prevalence estimated to be 10–20%


  • Uncertain pathophysiology, but many possibilities
  • Altered GI motility:
    • Increased gut sensitivity (visceral hyperalgesia):
      • Exaggerated response to normal GI physiology
  • Mucosal inflammation:
    • Postinfectious:
      • After bacterial enteritis, 10% have persistent IBS symptoms
  • Mucosal lymphocyte infiltration
  • Altered microflora in small bowel or feces
  • Food sensitivity is a possibility but not proven
  • Psychosocial dysfunction:
    • More anxiety, somatoform disorders, and history of abuse in patients who seek care
    • No evidence of increased psychiatric illness in those who do not seek care

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Rosen, Peter, et al., editors. "Irritable Bowel Syndrome." 5-Minute Emergency Consult, 5th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2016. Emergency Central, emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307705/all/Irritable_Bowel_Syndrome.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, et al, eds. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. 5th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307705/all/Irritable_Bowel_Syndrome. Accessed April 26, 2019.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome. (2016). In Rosen, P., Shayne, P., Barkin, A. Z., Wolfe, R. E., Hayden, S. R., Barkin, R. M., & Schaider, J. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Available from https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307705/all/Irritable_Bowel_Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome [Internet]. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, Wolfe RE, Hayden SR, Barkin RM, Schaider JJ, editors. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. [cited 2019 April 26]. Available from: https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307705/all/Irritable_Bowel_Syndrome.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Irritable Bowel Syndrome ID - 307705 ED - Rosen,Peter, ED - Shayne,Philip, ED - Barkin,Adam Z, ED - Wolfe,Richard E, ED - Hayden,Stephen R, ED - Barkin,Roger M, ED - Schaider,Jeffrey J, BT - 5-Minute Emergency Consult UR - https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307705/all/Irritable_Bowel_Syndrome PB - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ET - 5 DB - Emergency Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -