An update on irritable bowel syndrome: from diagnosis to emerging therapies

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Purpose of reviewIrritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common functional gastrointestinal disorder characterized by abdominal discomfort or pain that is accompanied by a disturbance in defecation. Although the exact etiopathogenesis is not completely understood, recent advances in the understanding of the biochemical, physiologic, and biopsychosocial mechanisms of IBS have resulted in exciting new insights as well as therapies. This article will review the recent developments in pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment.Recent findingsIBS may be the product of various pathogenic mechanisms which include IBS as a serotonergic disorder; the role of genetics; IBS as an inflammatory state and the potential role of mast cells; IBS as a result of bacterial overgrowth and altered gastrointestinal microbiome; and abnormal pain processing and pain memory. Emerging therapies have developed targeting these mechanisms.SummaryIBS remains a symptom-based diagnosis that can usually be made comfortably based on clinical history without testing in the absence of alarm features. Novel and emerging therapies that are based upon the evolving understanding of the pathophysiology of IBS hold significant promise and for the first time there are potential therapies that may alter the natural history of this disorder.

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