Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic functional gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. It is characterized by abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, gas, constipation, and/or diarrhea. It is estimated that up to 15% of the population suffers from IBS.

Signs and Symptoms of IBS

The most common symptom of IBS is abdominal pain or discomfort. Other symptoms include:

  • Changes in bowel habits, either constipation or diarrhea
  • Bloating and excessive gas
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Feeling of incomplete evacuation

Causes of IBS

The exact cause of IBS is unknown. However, factors that may contribute to IBS include:

  • Gut dysfunction: A disconnect between the gut and the brain can cause abnormal digestion and movement of food through the intestines
  • Gut microbiota: An imbalance of bacteria in the gut known as dysbiosis can cause changes in the immune system and digestions
  • Food sensitivities: Certain foods may trigger IBS responses such as diarrhea or constipation
  • Stress: Stress can worsen the symptoms of IBS

Treatment for IBS

Treatment for IBS depends on the individual and the types and severity of their symptoms. Common treatments include:

  • Diet modifications: Avoiding trigger foods, eating smaller meals, and keeping a food diary can help identify problem foods and improve IBS symptoms
  • Medications: Medications such as antidiarrheals and antidepressants can be prescribed to help manage symptoms
  • Stress management: Relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing help reduce stress and its symptoms
  • Exercise: Regular exercise helps relieve abdominal pain and reduce stress


IBS is a common disorder that can be managed with a combination of diet, lifestyle changes, and medications. It is important to speak to a healthcare provider about symptoms and treatment options.