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Irritable bowel syndrome

Information about irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

What is irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) comprises of chronic abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating and alteration of bowel habits.

How common is irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome affects up to one in five people at some point in their lives.

What are the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome?

Common symptoms are abdominal pain or discomfort with either an alteration in bowel movement form or frequency. Other symptoms such as the relief of pain or discomfort by opening the bowels, or abdominal bloating can occur with IBS.

What is thought to cause irritable bowel syndrome? 

Irritable bowel syndrome has no definitive cause. However, it has been proposed that irritants in the gut’s lining and increased activity in nerves travelling from the gut to the brain play a role.

How is irritable bowel syndrome diagnosed?

The diagnosis is made on symptoms: longstanding intermittent abdominal pain or discomfort associated with an erratic bowel habit, and often bloating.

How is irritable bowel syndrome treated?

Avoiding certain foods and exercise may be of benefit. A high fibre diet, antispasmodics (such as peppermint oil), antidepressants, rifaximin, and probiotics may also be effective.