IBS is a common disorder that affects approximately 5-20% of the populations of Western countries; the main symptoms are abdominal pain and erratic, altered bowel habits, often accompanied by bloating. Despite an array of available pharmacological and nonpharmacological treatments aimed at a wide variety of gastrointestinal and brain targets, many patients do not report adequate symptom relief. The effect of IBS on an individual can be enormous, and the societal and financial costs overall are high, which is indicative of an unmet need for effective IBS treatments. Intense research efforts are ongoing that range from the development of new molecules for pharmacological therapies to testing the utility of internet technology to facilitate widespread delivery of efficacious behavioural therapy. This Review discusses the latest treatments for IBS, including novel nonpharmacological and pharmacological approaches. We have included estimates of the number needed to treat and the number needed to harm for selected treatments. Emerging and potential future treatments are included, with the data supporting an optimistic view about the future of IBS therapeutics. The ability to optimize therapy by individualizing management whilst also avoiding harm remains the key to achieving the best possible outcomes with currently available therapeutics.
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