Chronic digestive condition causing abdominal pain and change in bowel habits.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive disorder that may affect as many as 20% of adults. Common symptoms of IBS include lower abdominal pain, urgency, bloating, changes in bowel habits (diarrhea and/or constipation), feeling of incomplete bowel movement and mucous in the stool. Symptoms can be painful, inconvenient and embarrassing. IBS is not life threatening, although symptoms may mimic something more serious. It appears patients with IBS have colon muscles and nerves that are more sensitive than normal, leading to stronger reactions to ordinary events like eating and stress. This abnormal reaction to these events leads to the symptoms described above. Common triggers of IBS include constipation, stress and certain foods (such as greasy and fatty foods, chocolate and milk products, raw vegetables, beans) and certain beverages (such as alcohol and caffeinated drinks).
Diagnosis of IBS can sometimes be made based on patient symptoms alone, although further evaluation, including endoscopic examination, may be necessary, especially if symptoms not associated with IBS are present, such as rectal bleeding, weight loss, or persistent, severe pain. Management of IBS may include stress relief and diet and lifestyle changes, including certain food avoidances and a high fiber diet. Persistent symptoms may also require antispasmodic or other prescribed medications.