Background: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most frequently diagnosed functional
gastrointestinal disorder. It is characterised by abdominal pain, bloating and changes in bowel habits
that can have a serious impact on the patient’s quality of life. Treatment strategies are based on
the nature and severity of the symptoms, the degree of functional impairment of the bowel habits,
and the presence of psychosocial disorders.
The purpose of this review is to update our current knowledge of therapeutic approach of this
Method: A literature search for IBS therapy was carried out using the online databases of Pubmed,
Medline and Cochrane.
Results: An ideal treatment begins by explaining this condition and providing reassurance to
the patients. There is limited evidence for the efficacy, and tolerability of the therapies currently
available for the treatment of IBS. There is also a limited availability of pharmacological agents
licensed specifically for the treatment of IBS subtypes, although new agents have been recently
proposed to this goal. Furthermore, patients often associate their complaints with the ingestion of
foods containing FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-di-monosaccharides, and polyols) and gluten
derivates and a personalized diet can be proposed. However, more severe symptoms can be
associated with greater levels of psychosocial problems and a psychological approach and
antidepressant drugs can be needed.
Conclusion: The treatment of IBS remains focused on treating the patient’s predominant, or
most troublesome, symptoms. New promising treatments have recently become available for the
treatment of IBS but long term studies are still needed.