Tegaserod (Zelnorm)...New Drug for IBS (cont.)

What is IBS?

IBS is a common gastrointestinal condition. Patients with IBS typically complain of recurrent abdominal pain, bloating, and alteration in bowel habit. Some IBS patients are prone to constipation, some are prone to diarrhea, and some have periods of constipation alternating with periods of diarrhea. IBS is a chronic condition; symptoms can come and go over months, years or even decades.

IBS is a functional disorder of the intestines and its nerves; it may be caused by either abnormal motility (abnormal contractions) of the intestinal muscles or abnormally sensitive nerves in the intestines (visceral hyper-sensitivity). IBS is more difficult to diagnose than diseases with structural abnormalities. (Structural abnormalities are abnormalities that can be "seen" by examinations such as x-ray or endoscopy such as ulcers, infections, colitis, and cancers.)

While IBS is not life-threatening, symptoms of IBS can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life and can even be debilitating. For example, a patient with frequent diarrhea and an urgent need to have a bowel movement after meals may avoid eating out; and patients who develop bloating and abdominal pain after meals may develop a fear of eating.