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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) (cont.)

What Happens

Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may persist for a long time, but IBS does not cause cancer or shorten life expectancy.

The pattern of IBS varies from one person to the next and from one bout to the next. Some people have symptoms off and on for many years. You may go months or years without having any symptoms. However, most people have recurrent episodes of symptoms. It is rare for a person to have symptoms constantly.

As people get older, their symptoms of IBS tend to get better. And over time about 3 out of 10 people will stop having any symptoms at all.2

Although IBS does not cause more serious conditions, such as cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, a person who has IBS may also have one of these illnesses.

What Increases Your Risk

Between 7% and 10% of people in the world have irritable bowel syndrome.3 But most people with IBS don't see a doctor about their symptoms.

IBS tends to be more common in:

  • People in their late 20s.
  • Women.
  • People who have panic disorder or other psychological conditions.
  • People who have a family history of IBS.
  • People who have a history of physical or sexual abuse or other psychological trauma. Several studies have found a link between a past history of abuse and gastrointestinal disorders.4
  • People with other conditions such as depression, migraine headaches, and fibromyalgia (which causes widespread muscle and soft-tissue pain and tenderness).

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