SHEFFIELD, UNITED KINGDOM. It is estimated that as many as 15 per cent of all people in Western societies suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is characterized by abdominal pain, altered bowel movements (constipation or diarrhea) and abdominal bloating, fullness or swelling. Researchers at the University of Sheffield Medical School have found that the prevalence of celiac disease (a condition in which the small intestine fails to digest and absorb food) is seven times higher among IBS patients than among controls. Their study involved 300 patients newly diagnosed with IBS and 300 healthy controls. They found that about 75 per cent of the patients had been correctly diagnosed as having IBS; the remainder had either celiac disease (6 per cent) or some other organic abnormality such as diverticulosis (13 per cent). The researchers recommend that IBS patients be routinely checked for the presence of celiac disease.
Sanders, David S, et al. Association of adult celiac disease with irritable bowel syndrome: a case-control study in patients fulfilling ROME II criteria referred to secondary care. The Lancet, Vol. 358, November 3, 2001, pp. 1504-08