Irritable Bowel Syndrome (or “IBS”) is one of the more commonly diagnosed gastrointestinal disorders. But within the larger population of those diagnosed with IBS, one subgroup suffers the sudden onset of IBS symptoms following an acute case of gastroenteritis, usually caused by such bacteria as salmonella or E. coli, but on occasion appearing after an infection with a parasite like Cyclospora, or viral gastroenteritis caused by something like norovirus. The onset of IBS after these food borne illness in called post-infectious IBS (PI-IBS). They are relatively rare, happening to only one-in-twenty of the victims of food poisoning.
PI-IBS is often missed when people bring a food poisoning claim, and this error can be costly. PI-IBS can be much worse than the initial illness and have life-long consequences. In the U.S. more than $25 billion is spent on managing patients with IBS through direct costs of health care and indirect costs of absenteeism from work. Patients with IBS have 3 times the rate of missing work than persons without IBS as they have long periods of disability. The level of productivity in patients with IBS averages 35% less compared with people without IBS.
In addition, Patients with IBS make a significantly greater number of healthcare visits each year compared with non-IBS patients. A number of studies have looked at the annual cost of care of patients with the diarrhea form of IBS (IBS-D). In a study of managed care costs, IBS compared with non-IBS controls increased annual medical costs by 49%.
According to Robin Spiller, MD, Professor of Gastroenterology, PI-IBS was first identified following World War II when soldiers who had developed IBS-like symptoms were returning from the war where they has acquired bacterial dysentery. Since then, a great deal of research has focused on IBS and PI-IBS.
According to most studies, victims of PI-IBS are still symptomatic many years after their initial presentation, with evidence that the median duration for idiopathic IBS patients, and PI-IBS patients, is greater than 12 years.
Studies indicate that about 50% of patients with PI-IBS will eventually recover with no specific treatment, though this may take some years. The coexistence of severe untreated anxiety or depression may reduce chances for recovery.