Medical Definition of Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/12/2018

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): A common gastrointestinal disorder involving an abnormal condition of gut contractions (motility) and increased gut sensations (visceral hypersensitivity) characterized by abdominal pain / discomfort , gas, bloating, mucous in stools, and irregular bowel habits with constipation or diarrhea or alternating diarrhea and constipation. Symptoms tend to be chronic ,intermittent and to wax and wane over the years. Although IBS can cause chronic recurrent abdominal discomfort, it does not lead to any serious abdominal organ problems.

Making the diagnosis usually done by suspecting the condition and confirming irritable bowel by excluding other causes of abdominal illnesses. Treatment is directed toward relief of symptoms and includes changes in diet (eating a moderate high fiber and avoiding caffeine, milk products and sweeteners), exercise, relaxation techniques, and medications.

Also called spastic colitis, mucus colitis, nervous colon syndrome.

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Reviewed on 12/12/2018