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Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

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 abdominal pain, bloating, increased gas, constipation, or diarrhea.

What causes IBS?

The cause of IBS is not known. Any of the following may trigger IBS symptoms:

What are the signs and symptoms of IBS?

Signs and symptoms of IBS may come and go. Symptoms can occur a few times a week to once a month. IBS can go away for years and suddenly return. Your symptoms may worsen after you eat a big meal or if you do not eat enough healthy foods. You may have any of the following:

How is IBS diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and when they started. Your provider will ask what triggers your symptoms, and how long they last. You may need blood tests, a test of your bowel movement, or a lactose intolerance test. You may also need a bacteria breath tests, imaging scans of your abdomen, or a colonoscopy.

How is IBS treated?

There is no cure for IBS. The goal of treatment is to decrease your symptoms, such as abdominal pain or muscle spasms. You may need medicine to help you have a bowel movement, soften your bowel movement, or treat diarrhea. You may also need medicine to treat abnormal growth of bacteria, called a probiotic.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

How can I manage my IBS?

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my doctor?

Care Agreement

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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Further information

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