Irritable Bowel Syndrome Facts

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common intestinal disorder that leads to cramping, gassiness, bloating and changes in bowel habits. Learn more about irritable bowel syndrome ›

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS is called a functional disorder because there is no sign of disease when the colon is examined. Because physicians have been unable to find an organic cause, IBS often has been thought to be caused by emotional conflict or stress. While stress may worsen IBS symptoms, research suggests that other factors also are important.

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A Closer Look at Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is not a disease; it is a disorder that interferes with the normal function of the large intestine (colon) and is characterized by cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. In the past, it has been called colitis, mucous colitis, spastic colon or spastic bowel. IBS involves how the muscles in the intestines work and how pain is perceived in the bowel, but does not permanently damage the colon, and does not lead to bleeding or a serious disease such as cancer or inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis). Most people can control their symptoms with diet, stress management and medications. But for some people, IBS can interfere with work, social events or travel.

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Ideas to Help Fiber-Up Your Diet

Chew on this: If you're like many Americans, you're fiber-challenged. Most Americans consume only 15 grams of fiber daily instead of the recommended 20 grams to 35 grams, according to the National Cancer Institute. The USDA 2005 guidelines recommends 14 grams of fiber for every 1000 calories in the diet.

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Questions to Ask Your Doctor

  1. What is IBS? How does it occur?

  2. What diseases can mimic IBS?

  3. Are there effective ways to reduce stress? Can yoga or meditation help?

  4. What kind of diet helps with IBS symptoms? What kind of foods or substances should I avoid?

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Children

Irritable bowel syndrome is one of the manifestations of functional abdominal pain. Functional means that there is no organic disease. Functional abdominal pain describes a constellation of symptoms as a result of intestinal motility disorders. Symptoms may include:

  • flatulence

  • bloating

  • diarrhea

  • constipation

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When Your Child Has Irritable Bowl Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition in children. It affects your child’s digestive tract, where food is broken down to give your child energy and help him grow. IBS causes irritation of the large intestine (colon). This is where water is absorbed from waste before it passes out of the body. IBS may come and go, but there are things you can do to help your child feel better.

Learn what to do when your child has IBS

Your Guide to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)


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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common disorders diagnosed by doctors. In fact, it's estimated that as many as 20 percent of adults have symptoms of IBS.