What's IBS or Irritable Bowl Syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine (colon). Irritable bowel syndrome commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. IBS is a chronic condition that you will 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.

Only a small number of people with irritable bowel syndrome have severe signs and symptoms. Some people can control their symptoms by managing diet, lifestyle and stress. Others will need medication and counseling.

 

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can vary widely from person to person and often resemble those of other diseases. Among the most common are:

 

    • Abdominal pain or cramping

 

    • A bloated feeling

 

    • Gas

 

    • Diarrhea or constipation — sometimes alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea

 

    • Mucus in the stool

 

For most people, IBS is a chronic condition, although there will likely be times when the signs and symptoms are worse and times when they improve or even disappear completely.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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