Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)/Constipation 1
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder that leads to abdominal pain and cramping, changes in bowel movements, and other symptoms.
The intestine is connected to the brain. Signals go back and forth between the bowel and brain. These signals affect bowel function and symptoms. The nerves can become more active during stress, causing the intestines to be more sensitive and squeeze (contract) more.
IBS can occur at any age, but it often begins in the teen years or early adulthood. It is twice as common in women as in men. About 1 in 6 people in the U.S. have symptoms of IBS. It is the most common intestinal problem that causes patients to be referred to a bowel specialist (gastroenterologist).
Symptoms range from mild to severe. Most people have mild symptoms. Symptoms are different from person to person.
The main symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain, fullness, gas, and bloating that have been present for at least 3 days a month for the last 3 months. The pain and other symptoms will often:
People with IBS may switch between constipation and diarrhea, or mostly have one or the other.
For some people, the symptoms may get worse for a few weeks or a month, and then decrease for a while. For other people, symptoms are present most of the time.
Most of the time, your doctor can diagnose IBS based on your symptoms, with few or no tests. Eating a lactose-free diet for 2 weeks may help the doctor check for a possible lactase deficiency.
There is no test to diagnose IBS. Tests may be done to rule out other problems:
Other sources of information on IBS:
Following are additional sources of information:
Mayo Clinic National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC) IBS Self Help and Support Group1 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001292/