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Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2022.


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.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


Without treatment, IBS can interfere with work, personal relationships, and your daily activities. At times, you may feel discouraged or depressed. You can develop hemorrhoids if you strain during a bowel movement. Severe diarrhea can cause dehydration, which may be life-threatening.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


You may need to rest in bed. You may be allowed out of bed once you are feeling better. If you are not allowed out of bed, you can still exercise your legs in bed. Do this by lifting one leg off the bed and drawing big circles with your toes. Then do it with the other leg. Call your healthcare provider before getting up. If you ever feel weak or dizzy, sit or lie down right away.

Intake and output:

Caregivers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. They also may need to know how much you are urinating. Ask how much liquid you should drink each day. Ask caregivers if they need to measure or collect your urine.


  • 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.


  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.
  • CT scan: This is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your abdomen. Healthcare providers check for problems and abnormal changes. You may be given dye in your IV to help your healthcare providers see the images better. Tell the healthcare provider if you are allergic to shellfish or iodine. You may also be allergic to the dye.
  • Barium enema: A barium enema is an x-ray of the colon. A tube is put into your anus, and a liquid called barium is put through the tube. Barium is used so that caregivers can see your colon better on the x-ray film.
  • Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy: A tube with a light on the end will be put into your anus, and then moved forward into your intestine. A sigmoidoscopy looks at the lower part of your intestine. A colonoscopy looks at your entire intestine.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.