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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Quick Overview

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder also called spastic colon, functional bowel disease, and mucous colitis, though it is not a true colitis.
  • Symptoms of IBS include abdominal cramping or pain, bloating and gassiness, and altered bowel habits.
  • The cause of irritable bowel syndrome is currently unknown. It is thought to result from a combination of abnormal gastrointestinal (GI) tract movements, increased awareness of bodily functions, and a disruption in the communication between the brain and the GI tract.
  • IBS is diagnosed by exclusion, which means a doctor considers many other alternatives first, performing tests to rule out other medical problems.
  • Home remedies for IBS include avoiding certain foods that "trigger" or worsen bloating and gas such as cruciferous vegetables, for example:
    • cauliflower,
    • horseradish,
    • watercress,
    • wasabi,
    • kale, and
    • broccoli.
  • legumes also can trigger IBS symptoms of bloating and gas, for example,
    • black beans,
    • chickpeas (garbanzo beans),
    • edamame,
    • fava beans, and
    • soy nuts.
  • Other home remedies to relieve symptoms of IBS include adding fiber to the diet, drinking plenty of water, avoiding soda, eating smaller meals, and eating more low fat and high carbohydrate foods.
  • There is currently no known cure for IBS. Medical treatment for irritable bowel syndrome includes antispasmodic medicines, antidiarrheal medicines, antidepressants, laxatives, and other drugs.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic (long-term) disease, and symptoms usually recur.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder of unknown cause. Common symptoms include abdominal cramping or pain, bloating and gassiness, and altered bowel habits.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome has also been called spastic colon, functional bowel disease, and mucous colitis. However, IBS is not a true "colitis." The term colitis refers to a different group of conditions known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Causes

  • IBS is not contagious, inherited, or cancerous. It occurs more often in women than in men, and the onset occurs before the age of 35 in about half of the cases. IBS occurs in between 5% to 20% of children.
  • IBS has also developed after episodes of gastroenteritis.
  • It has been suggested that IBS is caused by dietary allergies or food sensitivities, but this has never been proven.
  • Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome may worsen during periods of stress or during menstruation, but these factors are unlikely to be the cause that leads to the development of IBS.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/8/2015
Medical Editor:

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Irritable Bowel Disease »

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional GI disorder characterized by abdominal pain and altered bowel habits in the absence of specific and unique organic pathology.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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