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Irritable Bowel Syndrome


Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a condition that prevents food from moving through your intestines normally. The food may move through too slowly or too quickly. This causes bloating, increased gas, constipation, or diarrhea.



  • Diarrhea medicine: This medicine is given to decrease the amount of diarrhea you are having. Some of these medicines coat the intestine and make bowel movements less watery. Other medicines work by slowing down how fast the intestines move food through.

  • Muscle relaxers: This medicine decreases abdominal pain and muscle spasms.

  • Laxatives: This medicine helps treat constipation by moving food and liquids out of your stomach faster.

  • Stool softeners: This medicine softens bowel movements to prevent straining.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage IBS:

  • Keep a diary: Keep a diary of everything you eat and drink, and your symptoms, for 3 weeks.

  • Eat a variety of healthy foods: Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meat, and fish. You may need to eat or avoid certain foods to decrease your symptoms.

  • Drink liquids as directed: For most people, good liquids to drink are water, juice, and milk. Ask which liquids are best for you and how much liquid to drink each day.

  • Exercise as directed: Talk to your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you. Exercise can decrease your blood pressure and improve your health.

  • Manage stress: Stress may slow healing and cause illness. Learn new ways to relax, such as deep breathing.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.

  • You have pain in your rectum.

  • Your abdominal pain does not go away, even after treatment.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have severe abdominal pain.

  • Your bowel movements are dark or have blood in them.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Irritable Bowel Syndrome (Discharge Care)