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What are the signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized mostly by abdominal pain a and cramping. Other IBS symptoms and signs include:

  • Diarrhea: IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D) can come with sudden urges to have bowel movements and loose stools.
  • Constipation: IBS with constipation (IBS-C) can be accompanied by straining during bowel movements and infrequent stools.
  • Increased gas
  • Abdominal swelling or bloating
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Cramping pain after eating certain foods
  • Nausea
  • Mucousy or foamy stool
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

While not technically a symptom of IBS, nearly 70% of people with IBS also experience indigestion.

Symptoms are often relieved by bowel movements. Women with IBS may have more symptoms during their menstrual periods.

Return to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Ibbs, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: September 01

Find your trigger food for IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). It took me years to figure out mine was garlic. If I stay away from it and all foods in the allicin family, onions etc., it helps immensely. Also make sure you have an adequate intake of fiber every day to keep yourself regular, and don't let yourself get bloated after eating, Gas-X should be your best friend. It is hard to eat out at restaurants and in other people's homes when you can't eat garlic. But if it stops you from getting ill and having acute pain, it is worth it. You would be surprised by the number of people that have gastrointestinal (GI) upset with garlic and other foods in this garlic family. I also use Bentyl which has worked for me for years for GI spasms when I need it.

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Comment from: Patacake, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: August 25

I have had IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) all my adult life. Lately I have had bowel movements with a really foul odor. Not usual for me. I don't know why this would change. I had tests 8 months that were fine.

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Comment from: shane, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: April 17

Stress tends to trigger my IBS. Eating until I'm full will also trigger it. Not relieving gas (farting) and having gas backed up will often trigger it. Not so much certain foods, but often after eating causes it. Sometimes, it just happens. I could be under stress and not know it, but I feel as if it just happens. Sharp pains in my gut let me know I'm about to go. It feels almost like food poisoning in a way.

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