Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Jul 07, 2023

Understanding Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, commonly referred to as IBS, is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. It's a chronic condition that you'll need to manage long term. Even though signs and symptoms are uncomfortable, IBS — unlike ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, which are forms of inflammatory bowel disease — doesn't cause changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer.

ibs diagram

Symptoms of IBS

The symptoms of IBS can vary widely from person to person and often resemble those of other diseases. Among the most common are: abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, excessive gas, diarrhea or constipation, and mucus in the stool. For most people with IBS, symptoms are severe only sometimes. You're likely to have some days without any symptoms, some days with mild symptoms, and some days with severe symptoms.

ibs symptoms

When to Seek Medical Help

While occasional changes in the frequency of bowel movements and loose stools can be normal, consult your doctor if you notice a persistent change in your bowel habits or if you have any other signs or symptoms of IBS because these may indicate a more serious condition, such as colon cancer.

Causes of IBS

The exact cause of IBS isn't known. Factors that appear to play a role include muscle contractions in the intestine, abnormalities in the nerves of the digestive system, inflammation in the intestines, severe infection, and changes in bacteria in the gut.

ibs causes

Managing IBS

While there's currently no cure for IBS, treatment can manage symptoms. Lifestyle changes can often help, including regular exercise, improved sleep habits, and dietary adjustments. In some cases, medication may be necessary.

Dietary Changes

For many people with IBS, certain foods can trigger symptoms. It's crucial to keep a food diary to help identify these triggers. Common culprits include chocolate, spices, fats, fruits, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, milk, carbonated beverages, and alcohol.

ibs diet

Stress Management

Stress doesn't cause IBS, but it can trigger symptoms or make them worse. Effective stress management techniques include mindfulness, yoga, and regular exercise. In some cases, therapy or counseling might be beneficial.


Living with IBS can be challenging, but with the right knowledge and strategies, it's possible to effectively manage symptoms and maintain a high quality of life. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.