Diagnosis, treatment, and management of irritable bowel syndrome with constipation and chronic constipation.MedGenMed 2005; 7(3):71M
Irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C) and chronic constipation are 2 common gastrointestinal motility disorders that place a substantial burden on patients and society. Symptoms of both disorders are chronic, sometimes severe, and often respond poorly to treatment with traditional approaches, resulting in reduced quality of life, polypharmacy, and frequent healthcare utilization. Because structural, physical, or biochemical markers cannot be used to identify either disorder, diagnosis is symptom-based. In the absence of alarm features suggestive of organic disease or secondary causes of symptoms, these disorders can be positively and confidently diagnosed. In general, traditional agents used to treat patients with constipation target only a single symptom, and do not provide adequate relief of symptoms in the majority of IBS-C patients. Although patients with mild constipation symptoms may respond to treatment with fiber and laxatives, others with moderate-to-severe symptoms may require additional therapies and/or referral to a specialist for further evaluation. The advent of novel serotonergic agents has rejuvenated the therapeutic approach to patients with IBS-C and chronic constipation.