Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or mucous colitis, a disease that affects some 9,000,000 people in France, is characterized by abnormal sensitivity and functioning of the colonic wall that becomes "irritable" (and not irritated). Unlike other digestive pathologies, there is no visible lesions on the colon. Its frequency and the symptoms it can cause represent a significant public health problem.
Many mysteries unsolved...
Understanding of the pathophysiology of IBSs has significantly improved. It is not a simple disorder of the digestive tract, but has in fact multifactorial causes. Besides visceral hypersensitivity (the main symptom causing abdominal pain) related to the disruption of nerve communication between the peripheral nervous system of the digestive tract itself and the central nervous system, the following may be experienced: gastroduodenal motor disturbances, viral or bacterial infection, altered intestinal permeability, dysbiosis, bile acid malabsorption, psychological and genetic factors and low-grade intestinal inflammation, etc.
Considering the number of processes that may explain a similar symptomatology, we understand how difficult it is to treat every patient and the disappointment of currently available treatments.
New experimental models have been recently developed and bring hope for identifying new molecules, because so far, therapies offer a benefit of only 10% compared with the placebo.
IBS is a frequent condition; indeed, in all industrialized countries, its prevalence amounts to approximately 15% and shows a marked female preponderance.
In France, around 9 million people are thought to suffer from intestinal functional disorders.
Irritable bowel syndrome is observed at all stages of life, including in young children, but mostly between late adolescence and the age of 25.
Painful, Chronic Conditions
These intestinal functional disorders are chronic (40% of the surveyed subjects had the disease for over 10 years) and will progress over time in a whimsical and unstable way, but without aggravation or complication. They include chronic abdominal pain and changes in bowel movement (constipation, diarrhea, or both alternately) that are augmented during flare-ups.
The symptoms can sometimes be severe enough to worry the patient and require hospitalization.
IBSs account for 50% of gastroenterology consultations and have a definite economic impact (absenteeism, additional tests, drugs). IBSs are therefore, despite their benign nature, a real public health problem.
Although this condition is not life-threatening, it significantly alters the patients' quality of life. In terms of fatigue and emotional wellness, the consequences of IBS on the quality of life seem to be even more negative than, for example, those of insulin-treated diabetes or renal failure.
Therapeutic solution is limited to the treatment of symptoms with antispasmodics, antimotility drugs, laxatives, etc.