April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness month. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder in which chronic, recurrent abdominal pain with constipation, diarrhea or a combination of both, occurs. It is considered a functional disorder because there are no structural abnormalities that can be seen by conventional tests.
The exact cause of IBS is unknown; it is thought to be due to the brain and gut not communicating as they should. Symptoms may result from a disturbance in the way the gut, brain, and nervous system interact. As a matter of fact, the connection between gut flora and the brain is so important that in 2014, the National Institute of Mental Health spent more than $1 million on a research program to study this relationship.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the prevalence of IBS is estimated at 10% to 20% in the general population with an incidence of 1% to 2% a year. Gastroenterologists spend about 25% of their outpatient office time treating IBS. Prevalence in the U.S. appears to decrease slightly with age and is higher in women than men by a 2:1 ratio.
Unfortunately, many people wait several years before seeing a doctor and live with the symptoms of IBS until it impacts their daily lives, causing them to miss work or family and social events. A survey of over 3,500 IBS patients revealed that IBS lead to a monthly average of 2 missed days of work and 9 days of impaired occupational productivity.
Although a few FDA-approved medications are available to treat IBS symptoms, several of these drugs have strict limitations on use. Many patients do not find relief, even when physicians explore off-label drug options. Well-designed studies are needed to support the use and optimize the dosing for older medications that are used off-label. Additionally, comparative effectiveness studies (comparing two or more medications), which would help guide treatment selection, are lacking for IBS medications.
Meridien Research has conducted dozens of IBS clinical trials since 2000. At any given time, one of Meridien’s six Central Florida clinics typically has an IBS study enrolling. To learn more about Meridien Research’s IBS Studies, call 888-777-8839.