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Irritable bowel syndrome: a management strategy.

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University of Ottawa, Nepean, Ontario, Canada.


In the development of a management strategy for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients we must consider the great number of people with the condition, most of whom do not consult doctors for it. Furthermore, we must be aware of the hidden agenda of those that do. The cause of IBS is unknown, and consequently cure of this chronic recurrent condition is not likely. Moreover, the disorder is very costly, drawing precious resources from the care of more serious diseases. In this chapter I propose a management strategy based on a firm diagnosis of IBS using a minimum of tests, consideration of the patient's agenda, the use of dietary advice, the strategic use of drugs only in resistant cases, a graded therapeutic response and continuing care. There is no specific treatment. The doctor-patient interaction is most important to allay patients' fears and concerns, assist them with psychosocial difficulties, and provide the caring support known to maximize the 'placebo' effect of any treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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