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IBS guidelines set down

 Nurses can now refer to a clear set of symptoms to positively diagnose irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) thanks to new National Insittute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines.

IBS is usually characterised by abdominal discomfort, bloating, changes in the bowel and affects up to 1 in 10 people at some point in their lives.

It is hoped that the guideline will encourage more people living with IBS symptoms to approach their doctor or practice nurse.

Nurses should consider an IBS assessment when people who have experienced abdominal pain or discomfort, a change in bowels or bloating for at least six months.

All people with possible IBS symptoms should be asked if they have any “red flag” indicators and should be referred to secondary care for further investigation.

People meeting the IBS diagnostic criteria should also be submitted for a full blood count, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, c-reactive protein and antibody test.

“Traditionally, IBS has been diagnosed by the process of elimination of other conditions.

“For the first time this guidelines provides healthcare professionals with a tool to help diagnose and manage the condition.

“By providing evidence-based clarity to healthcare professionals, they will be in the best position to support individuals and give them the confidence to cope with recurrences of IBS symptoms.”