Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or IBS?

In essence, the condition is a combination of abdominal discomfort or pain and altered bowel habits: either altered frequency (diarrhea or constipation) or altered stool form (thin, hard, or soft and liquid). IBS can be a chronic problem that can significantly impair quality of life in those that have it.

What Are the Symptoms of IBS?

  • Diarrhea (often described as violent episodes of diarrhea).
  • Constipation.
  • Constipation alternating with diarrhea.
  • Abdominal pains or cramps, usually in the lower half of the abdomen that are aggravated by meals and relieved by having a bowel movement. Often the person has more frequent bowel movements when they have pain and the stools are looser.
  • Excess gas or bloating.
  • Harder or looser stools than normal (rabbit like pellets or flat ribbon stools).
  • Visible abdominal distension.
  • Some people with IBS have other symptoms not related to their digestive tract, such as urinary symptoms or sexual problems.

How Is IBS Treated?

Treatment of IBS involves a collaborative effort between the doctor and the patient to manage symptoms and may consist of lifestyle changes and drug treatments.