Irritable Bowel Syndrome



Study Topic


What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS, refers to a constellation of symptoms surrounding the pattern of bowel movements, the causes of which are unclear, and that exhibit no evidence of underlying damage. IBS is broken into four types, varying with whether diarrhea and constipation are both common, both uncommon, or with neither occurring frequently.

IBS can be treated, but there is currently no known cure. Ten to 15 percent of people suffer from IBS, with women experiencing it about twice as often as men. IBS typically occurs under the age of 45, with occurrences happening less frequently with aging.

Possible Factors

While a definitive cause of IBS has yet to be determined, a number of different factors seem to contribute to the condition. Some of these include:

  • Increased numbers of immune-system cells in the intestines
  • Changes in gut bacteria
  • Severe infections
  • Abnormalities in the nerves of the digestive system
  • Food allergies
  • Increased stress
  • Hormonal changes
  • Abnormal muscle contractions in the intestines

Common Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The symptoms of IBS can vary from person to person. While most people can manage their IBS with diet and lifestyle adjustment, symptoms can also be quite severe. Some common symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome include:

  • Moderate to severe abdominal pain
  • Frequent diarrhea, and/or alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation
  • Feeling of incomplete evacuation
  • Excess gas
  • Mucus in stools
  • Bloating

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