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Nurses issued with guidance on IBS

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Patients reporting abdominal pain or discomfort, a change in bowel habit or bloating for at least six months should be assessed for irritable bowel syndrome, according to latest NICE guidance.

However, a diagnosis of IBS should be considered only if the patient has abdominal pain or discomfort that is either relieved by emptying the bowels or associated with altered bowel frequency or stool form, the guidance states.

Once IBS has been confirmed, nurses should review patients’ fibre intake, adjusting it while monitoring the effect of symptoms. People with IBS should be discouraged from eating insoluble fibre like bran. If an increase in dietary fibre is advised, it should be soluble fibre or foods high in soluble fibre.

Guideline development group chairperson Theresa Shaw, chief executive of the Foundation of Nursing Studies, said: ‘IBS is not a condition that will go away but in every case we can ensure that the condition is managed in the best possible way – this may be through limiting high fibre food, caffeine and alcohol, increasing daily activity or offering an antispasmodic agent which will reduce bowel spasms.’

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