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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. Signs and symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhoea or constipation, or both. IBS is a chronic condition that you’ll need to manage long term.

Only a small number of people with IBS have severe signs and symptoms. Some people can control their symptoms by managing diet, lifestyle, and stress. More-severe symptoms can be treated with medication and counselling.



The precise cause of IBS isn’t known. Factors that appear to play a role include:

  • Muscle contractions in the intestine.
  • Nervous system.
  • Inflammation in the intestines.
  • Severe infection.
  • Changes in bacteria in the gut (microflora).



The signs and symptoms of IBS vary. The most common include:

  • Abdominal pain, cramping or bloating that is typically relieved or partially relieved by passing a bowel movement
  • Excess gas
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Mucus in the stool

Most people with IBS experience times when the signs and symptoms are worse and times when they improve or even disappear completely.

Symptoms of IBS can be triggered by:

  • Food.
  • Stress.
  • Hormones.


Risk factors

Many people have occasional signs and symptoms of IBS. But you’re more likely to have the syndrome if you:

  • Are young.
  • Are female.
  • Have a family history of IBS.
  • Have a mental health problem.



See Also
Period Pain

Chronic constipation or diarrhoea can cause haemorrhoids.

In addition, IBS is associated with:

  • Poor quality of life.
  • Mood disorders.



Finding ways to deal with stress may help prevent or ease symptoms of IBS. Consider trying:

  • Counselling.
  • Biofeedback.
  • Progressive relaxation exercises.
  • Mindfulness training.


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