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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (cont.)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms

IBS affects each person differently. The hallmark of IBS in adults and children is abdominal discomfort or pain. The following symptoms are also common:

  • Abdominal cramping and pain that are relieved with bowel movements
  • Alternating periods of diarrhea and constipation
  • Change in the stool frequency or consistency
  • Gassiness (flatulence)
  • Passing mucus from the rectum
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal distension

The following are NOT symptoms or characteristics of IBS (but should still be brought to the attention of a physician since they may be signs and symptoms of other conditions):

When to Seek Medical Care for IBS

If a person has any of the symptoms of IBS as discussed previously, or if a person with known IBS has unusual symptoms, a health-care professional should be consulted. Go to a hospital emergency department if problems are severe and/or come on suddenly.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diagnosis

IBS can be very difficult to diagnosis. IBS is called a diagnosis of exclusion, which means a doctor considers many other alternatives first, performing tests to rule out other medical problems. Some of these tests may include laboratory studies, imaging studies (such as a CT scan or small intestinal X-rays), and endoscopy and/or colonoscopy. An endoscopy is a procedure in which a flexible tube with a tiny camera on one end is passed into the GI tract while the patient is under conscious sedation. A combination of history, physical examination, and selected tests are used to help diagnose irritable bowel syndrome. No single blood test or X-ray study confirms a diagnosis of IBS.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/8/2015
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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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