Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)
    Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)

    Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)

    Dr. Anand received MBBS degree from Medical College Amritsar, University of Punjab. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at the Postgraduate Institute of medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India. He was trained in the field of Gastroenterology and obtained the DPhil degree. Dr. Anand is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.

Read about IBS symptoms and signs.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Symptoms and Signs

The main symptoms of IBS are

  • abdominal pain or discomfort,
  • a change in bowel habits.

Other symptoms sometimes seen with IBS include

  • bloating,
  • passing mucus along with stools,
  • a sense that their bowel movements are not complete,
  • flatulence (passing gas).

Quick GuideIBS - Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Symptoms, Diet, Treatment

IBS - Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Symptoms, Diet, Treatment

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) facts

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a type of gastrointestinal disorder. IBS symptoms and signs include:
  • The exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is unknown and may be due to multiple factors.
  • There are different forms of irritable bowel syndrome. IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D) is characterized by chronic or recurrent diarrhea, while IBS with constipation (IBS-C) is characterized by abdominal pain or discomfort associated with constipation. Some people experience alternating symptoms of diarrhea or constipation.
  • A diagnosis of IBS is based on the duration (at least six months) and frequency of signs and symptoms (at least three times a month).
  • There is no known cure for IBS, but there are many treatment options to reduce or eliminate symptoms. Treatment includes dietary modifications, lifestyle changes, and prescription medications.
  • There is no specific diet for IBS, and different people react differently to different foods. It is important for people with IBS to identify foods that trigger their symptoms so they can avoid them. In general, many people with IBS find it helpful to increase dietary fiber, drink plenty of water, avoid soda, and eat smaller meals.
  • It is best to talk to a primary-care physician or a gastroenterologist about the best way to manage IBS symptoms and signs.

What is the definition of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder characterized by the presence of a cluster of symptoms and signs in adults or children that include cramping, abdominal pain, increased gas, altered bowel habits, food intolerance, and bloating (distention).

Irritable bowel syndrome is a "functional" disorder. This term refers to the changes in the functioning of the digestive system that results in the collection of symptoms referred to as IBS, meaning that it is a problem with the movement (motility) rather than any damage to the tissues of the digestive system.

In the past, irritable bowel syndrome was also called spastic colon or bowel, functional bowel disease, mucous colitis, or nervous colon. IBS is not the same as colitis or Crohn's disease, which are a group of separate conditions also referred to as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/1/2016

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