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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

What is irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition of the large intestine. While IBS itself is common, it is rare to experience severe symptoms. 

What are the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome?

Symptoms of IBS are chronic, may vary between affected individuals, and include:

  • Appearance changes in bowel movements (BMs)
  • Abdominal pain
    • Related to passing a BM
  • Abdominal cramping
    • Related to passing a BM
  • Bloating
    • Related to passing a BM
  • Changes in the frequency of BMs

What causes irritable bowel syndrome?

While medical professionals are unsure of the cause of IBS, they suspect that a number of factors play a role, such as early life stress, severe infection, intestinal muscle contractions, changes in the gut microbes, and abnormalities in the nervous system. 

Additionally, risk factors and triggers of symptoms have been identified. Risk factors include youth, a family history of IBS, being female, depression, anxiety, and other issues with mental illness. On the other hand, symptom triggers are food and stress. 

How is irritable bowel syndrome diagnosed?

Doctors begin by reviewing a patient’s medical history. The next step is to rule out other conditions, such as celiac disease, through physical exams and tests. They will then use the Rome criteria and define the type of IBS to definitively diagnose.

What are the treatments for irritable bowel syndrome?

The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms. In the case of mild symptoms, lifestyle changes (exercising and sleeping regularly, avoiding triggers, staying hydrated, eating foods high in fiber, etc) are sufficient to manage symptoms. In patients with more severe symptoms, treatment options include counseling to relieve stress, laxatives, anti-diarrheal medications, fiber supplements, pain medications, anticholinergic medications, and antidepressants. Additionally, the FDA has approved the following drugs for IBS: Amitiza, Linzess, Lotronex, Viberzi, and Xifaxan.

Where can I find out more about irritable bowel syndrome?


IBS Articles