Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is common in Western Europe and North America and many aspects of its epidemiology, risk factors and natural history have been described in these regions. While the global map of IBS is far from complete, IBS does, indeed, appear to be common worldwide, although with some significant variations in prevalence rates between regions and countries, and there may well be some potentially interesting differences in presenting symptoms and gender distribution. Less is known about the global impact of IBS; existing data suggest a substantial impact to the individual in terms of lost time from work and education as well as impaired social functioning. Societal impact and on healthcare resources, in particular, may also be considerable resulting largely from a lack awareness of IBS as a distinct diagnostic entity, overeager performance of tests and ineffective therapies. While some general trends are evident in terms of IBS impact and demographics, international comparisons are hampered by differences in diagnostic criteria, study location and methodology; several important unanswered questions have been identified which should form the basis for future collaborative research and have the potential to shed light on this challenging disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIrritable Bowel Syndrome
Subtitle of host publicationDiagnosis and Clinical Management
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9781118538623
StatePublished - Apr 10 2013


  • Comorbidity
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Impact
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Natural history
  • Post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome
  • Quality of life
  • Rome criteria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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