Definition and Facts

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common digestive disorder that affects the GI tract. IBS is a group of symptoms that occur together, including repeated pain in your abdomen and changes in your bowel movements, which may be diarrhea, constipation or both. With IBS, you often have these symptoms without any visible signs of damage or disease in your digestive tract.

Symptoms and Causes

The most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are pain in your abdomen, often related to your bowel movements and changes in your bowel movements. These changes may be diarrhea, constipation or both, depending on what type of IBS you have. While there is not one cause for IBS, several factors may play a role in causing IBS, including muscle contractions in the intestine(abnormal motility), nervous system abnormalities, inflammation in the intestines, changes in gut microbiota (especially after an infection or a bout of antibiotic use) and certain triggers.


Doctors may treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) by recommending changes in what you eat and other lifestyle changes, medicines, probiotics and mental health therapies. You may have to try a few treatments to see what works best for you. Your doctor can help you find the right treatment plan.

Eating, Diet and Nutrition

Your doctor may recommend changes in your diet to help treat symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Changes may include eating more fiber, avoiding gluten, or following a special diet called the low FODMAP diet.


Kumkum Patel MD, MPH

Board-certified Gastroenterologist.
IBS and Motility Specialist

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