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Conditions InDepth: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a problem with the intestines. Belly pain and swelling, cramping, gas, changes in bowel movements are the most common problems.
The Intestines
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Causes of IBS

The cause is not known. It may happen due to:
  • Infection or inflammation
  • Changes in the normal bacteria of the intestines
  • Eating certain foods
  • Stress, anxiety, or depression
  • Missing enzymes that breakdown certain sugars (rare)

Types of IBS

IBS types are based on what is causing the most problems:
  • IBS with diarrhea
  • IBS with constipation
  • Mixed type
  • Unclassified—does not fit into other types of IBS
What are the risk factors for irritable bowel syndrome?What are the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome?How is irritable bowel syndrome diagnosed?What are the treatments for irritable bowel syndrome?Are there screening tests for irritable bowel syndrome?How can I reduce my risk of irritable bowel syndrome?What questions should I ask my doctor?What is it like to live with irritable bowel syndrome?Where can I get more information about irritable bowel syndrome?

References

Definition and facts for irritable bowel syndrome. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome/definition-facts. Updated November 2017. Accessed August 26, 2019.
Ford AC, Lacy BE, Talley NJ. Irritable bowel syndrome. N Engl J Med. 2017;376(26):2566-2578.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113627/Irritable-bowel-syndrome-IBS. Updated September 10, 2018. Accessed August 26, 2019.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD
  • Review Date: 08/2019
  • Update Date: 08/26/2019
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