Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Facts and Definition of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder.
- IBS is not the same as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a more serious condition that causes inflammation in the digestive tract and can result in severe complications.
- Symptoms of IBS include
- 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-D is irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea. Symptoms most common with IBS-D include:
- Sudden urges to have bowel movements
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Intestinal gas (flatulence)
- Loose stools
- Frequent stools
- Feeling of being unable to completely empty bowels
- IBS-C is irritable bowel syndrome with constipation. Symptoms most common with IBS-C include:
- Hard, lumpy stools
- Straining during bowel movements
- Infrequent stools
- IBS is diagnosed by exclusion, which means a doctor considers other alternatives first, performing tests to rule out other medical problems.
- Home remedies for IBS include avoiding certain foods that "trigger" or worsen diarrhea, bloating and gas such as cruciferous vegetables (for example, cauliflower, wasabi, kale, and broccoli), and legumes (for example, black beans, edamame, soy nuts, and fava beans).
- 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 has also been called spastic colon, functional bowel disease, and mucous colitis though. IBS is not a true "colitis." The term colitis refers to a different group of conditions such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, microscopic colitis, and ischemic colitis. These are other types of bowel disease.
Are Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) the Same Disease?
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are not the same condition. Technically, IBS is not a disease, but rather a functional disorder (abnormal function of the bowels) that results in a group of symptoms.
Irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease can have similar symptoms, but IBS is less serious than IBD. IBS does not cause inflammation, intestinal bleeding, rectal bleeding, ulcers, permanent damage to the intestines, or complications that can occur with IBD.
What Causes Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
- 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 5% to 20% of children.
- IBS also has developed after episodes of gastroenteritis.
- It has been suggested that IBS is caused by dietary allergies or food sensitivities, but this has not been proven.
- Genetics also is suggested as a potential cause of IBS, but so far a hereditary link has not been found.
- 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.
What Are the Risk Factors for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?
Risk factors for IBS include:
- Abnormal (too fast or slow, or too strong) movements of the colon and small intestines
- Hypersensitivity to pain caused by gas or full bowels
- A viral or bacterial infection of the stomach and intestines (gastroenteritis)
- Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- Reproductive hormones or neurotransmitters may be off-balance in people with IBS.
Anxiety or depression may accompany IBS, though these have not been found to be a direct cause of IBS.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/29/2016
Must Read Articles Related to Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Constipation in Adults
Constipation in adults refers to difficulty in passing stools or a decrease in the frequency of bowel movements. Causes of learn more >>
Constipation in Children
Constipation in children affects up to 10% of children at any given time. Causes of constipation in infants and children include a willfulness to avoid the toil...learn more >>
Diarrhea can be caused by bacterial or viral infections, parasites, intestinal diseases or conditions, reactions to medications, and learn more >>
Patient Comments & Reviews
The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS):