IBS: causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment

What is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

The large intestine is affected by the prevalent digestive illness known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) (colon). It is characterized by a number of symptoms, including as bloating, changes in bowel habits, and abdominal pain (such as diarrhea or constipation).

IBS is a chronic ailment that can be quite uncomfortable and interfere with everyday living. Although the precise aetiology of IBS is not entirely known, it is believed to be the consequence of a number of causes, including alterations in the colon’s muscles, an unbalanced bacterial population in the gut, and immune system issues. Some IBS sufferers may also have symptoms as a result of stress or particular meals.

Reasons for IBS

Although the precise aetiology of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is unknown, it is believed to be brought on by a number of factors, including

  • Modifications in the colon’s muscles: IBS patients may have alterations in the colon’s muscles, which can cause symptoms including bloating, abdominal discomfort, and irregular bowel movements.
  • An unbalanced bacterial environment in the gut: Dysbiosis, also known as an unbalanced bacterial environment in the gut, may have a role in the emergence of IBS.
  • Immune system issues: According to some study, IBS may be the consequence of immune system issues, which can lead to inflammation in the digestive tract.
  • Stress: For some IBS sufferers, stress and worry can bring on symptoms.
  • Specific foods: Some IBS sufferers may discover that specific meals, such as spicy or high-fat foods, make their symptoms worse.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can cause a variety of different symptoms, but typical ones include:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort that is frequently alleviated by bowel movements 
  • Changes in bowel movements, such as diarrhea, constipation, or a mix of both diarrhea and constipation (also known as “alternating” diarrhea and constipation)
  • Gas buildup and bloating
  • Stool mucus
  • An impression of insufficient bowel motions

IBS symptoms might vary in intensity and recurrence. Additionally, some meals and stress are triggers for them.

IBS diagnosis

A physical examination and a combination of symptoms are often used to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The Rome criteria, which are standards used by medical professionals to diagnose functional gastrointestinal disorders, including IBS, are commonly employed to diagnose IBS because there is no particular test for the syndrome.

A doctor would often inquire about your medical history and do a physical examination to identify IBS. They could also inquire about your symptoms, such as the regularity and kind of your bowel motions as well as any additional digestive problems you may be feeling.

To exclude out illnesses like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or celiac disease, which may cause same symptoms, further testing may occasionally be required. These examinations might involve blood work, stool testing, or imaging examinations including colonoscopies or CT scans.

IBS treatment

The severity of the ailment and the particular symptoms a person is exhibiting determine the course of treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is frequently treated using the following methods:

Lifestyle adjustments: You can control IBS symptoms by altering your diet, such as by consuming more fiber or less of particular foods that may aggravate your symptoms. Exercise, breathing exercises, and counselling are all effective ways to handle stress.

Drugs: Several medications, including antispasmodics, which can help lessen bloating and stomach pain, and laxatives, which can assist with constipation, may be used to treat the symptoms of IBS. IBS-related anxiety or sadness may also be treated with antidepressants and psychosocial treatments.

Alternative therapy: Some IBS sufferers may get relief from alternative therapies like acupuncture or herbal medications. Before beginning any alternative therapies, it is vital to speak with a healthcare professional because some might combine with other drugs or have potential negative effects.

IBS prevention strategies

You may take a number of steps to lessen your chance of getting irritable bowel syndrome (IBS):

1. Maintain a healthy, balanced diet: Eating a range of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains helps improve digestive health and lower the chance of developing IBS.

2. Maintain hydration: Drinking enough of fluids, particularly water, helps improve digestive system health and avoid constipation.

3. Work out frequently: Physical exercise on a regular basis helps improve bowel motions and lower the risk of constipation.

4. Control your stress: IBS symptoms can be triggered by persistent stress and worry. Exercise, meditation, and counselling are all effective ways to manage stress and lower the chance of getting IBS.

5. Steer clear of trigger foods: Some IBS sufferers may discover that specific meals, such as those heavy in fat or spice, make their symptoms worse. IBS risk can be decreased by keeping a diet journal and identifying any potential trigger foods.

6. Develop healthy bowel habits: Using the restroom as soon as the need strikes and avoiding lengthy periods of time on the toilet will help lower the chance of having IBS.

7. Keep a healthy weight: IBS is more likely to develop in those who are overweight or obese. This risk can be decreased by maintaining a healthy weight with a balanced diet and frequent exercise.[1]irritable_bowel_byndrome_IBS.pdf (hopkinsmedicine.org)[2]Microsoft Word – Irritable Bowel Syndrome (berkeley.edu)[3]https://www.health.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0034/674386/gastro_ibs.pdf[4]Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) – a self-help guide (wsh.nhs.uk)[5]Irritable Bowel Syndrome (va.gov)

Reviewed by:

Dr. Amjad Hayyat


Medical specialist

Makhdoom medical complex, Sargodha, Pakistan

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