Symptoms and Signs of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

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Medically Reviewed on 10/22/2021

Doctor's Notes on Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is known as a functional gastrointestinal disorder, meaning that is diagnosed based on having a set of symptoms over time affecting the movement of the gastrointestinal tract rather than a specific type of damage to the gastrointestinal tract. The cause of irritable bowel syndrome is not well understood. Symptoms and signs of irritable bowel syndrome may include:

Other associated symptoms may include:

  • abdominal swelling,
  • nausea,
  • loss of appetite,
  • weight loss,
  • loose stools,
  • straining to have a bowel movement, and
  • the presence of mucus in the stool or foamy-appearing stool.

The specific symptoms depend on the type of IBS that is present, whether constipation or diarrhea is the predominant feature.

What Is the Treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Dietary modifications are typically the first treatment for IBS, avoiding foods that trigger symptoms. Other home remedies include eating smaller, more frequent meals, smoking cessation, regular exercise, probiotics, and taking ginger or peppermint.

If dietary methods do not control the symptoms, medical therapies are often used, including:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) : Test Your Medical IQ Quiz

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.