The number of newly diagnosed cases of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is increasing worldwide. International IBS prevalence is estimated at 11.2% with variations in geographic regions ranging from 7% to 21% [1,2].
IBS is more prevalent among women with the incidence being 1.5 to 3 fold higher than in men. Internationally 14% of women and 8.9% of men will suffer with IBS . The condition appears within all age groups, including children and the elderly, although half of patients will report having suffered with symptoms before the age of 35 years [4,5]. Although IBS is thought to be a life-long condition, there is actually a 25% lower incidence in those aged over 50 . It remains unclear if there is any link with socioeconomic status, but there does appear to be a familial link with a two-fold increase in risk amongst first degree relatives .
Various other co-existing conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic back pain, chronic pelvic pain, chronic headache and temporomandibular joint dysfunction seem to occur twice as often in IBS patients in comparison to the general population, and can affect around 50% of IBS patients .
Although IBS can significantly reduce a patients’ quality of life and can be associated with depression and anxiety, it is not associated with an increased risk of mortality .
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- Lovell RM, Ford AC. Global prevalence of and risk factors for irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2012;10(7):712-21 e4.
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- Tang YR, Yang WW, Liang ML, Xu XY, Wang MF, Lin L. Age-related symptom and life quality changes in women with irritable bowel syndrome. World J Gastroenterol. 2012;18(48):7175-83.
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