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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) represents one of the most common reasons for seeing a primary care physician or consulting a gastroenterologist and is associated with substantial economic consequences.
In a review article published in the June 2004 issue of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Brooks D. Cash, MD, and William D. Chey, MD, discuss an evidence- based approach to diagnosing IBS. The authors describe how the development and refinement of symptom-based criteria to define IBS have facilitated its diagnosis. They also explain how IBS can be confidently diagnosed in the clinical setting through symptom identification and physical examination. The authors conclude that current evidence does not support extensive diagnostic testing in the absence of alarm symptoms.