Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common disorder affecting the large intestine, causing abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation.

The basics

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive disorder that can cause a variety of symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea. The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but it is thought to be related to abnormal muscle contractions in the colon or increased sensitivity to certain foods or stress.

IBS can be a challenging condition to manage and can significantly impact a person's quality of life, causing difficulty with daily activities and social situations. However, with the right treatment plan, most people with IBS are able to manage their symptoms effectively and improve their overall well-being.

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The presentation of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can vary from person to person, with some individuals experiencing mild symptoms and others experiencing more debilitating symptoms. The most common symptoms of IBS include:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Bloating and gas
  • Diarrhea or constipation, or alternating between the two
  • Abnormal stool consistency, such as loose stools or hard, pellet-like stools
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Feeling of incomplete bowel movement

In some cases, IBS can also be accompanied by other symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, and backache. The severity and frequency of these symptoms can also vary, with some individuals experiencing symptoms daily and others experiencing symptoms only occasionally. It's important to note that while IBS can be uncomfortable and disruptive, it does not cause permanent damage to the digestive tract or increase the risk of more serious conditions such as colon cancer.

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Therapies & treatments

Nutritionist / Dietitian Support

A nutritionist or dietitian can work with individuals with IBS to develop a customized nutrition plan that may include a low-FODMAP diet or other dietary modifications to manage symptoms.

Pain Specialist

A pain management specialist can provide medication management and other interventions to help manage pain associated with IBS.


A physical therapist can provide exercises and manual therapy to improve abdominal muscle function and reduce symptoms of IBS, such as bloating and constipation.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

MBSR is a meditation-based therapy that can help manage stress and improve symptoms of IBS. A trained psychological can provide guidance and support in incorporating MBSR techniques into daily life.

Gastrointestinal Motility Specialist

A specialist in gastrointestinal motility disorders can perform diagnostic tests to assess the movement of food and waste through the digestive tract and provide treatment options to manage symptoms.

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Self-care strategies

Dietary Modifications

Dietary modifications such as avoiding trigger foods and increasing fiber intake can help alleviate symptoms. Keeping a food diary can help identify trigger foods.

Regular Exercise

Regular exercise can improve digestion and reduce stress, which can help to alleviate IBS symptoms.

Stress Management

Stress can worsen IBS symptoms, so practicing stress management techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation can be beneficial.


Probiotics may help to restore balance to the gut microbiome and alleviate IBS symptoms. Consult with a healthcare provider to determine which probiotic may be best for you.

Adequate Hydration

Adequate hydration can help to regulate bowel movements and prevent constipation, a common symptom of IBS.

Sleep Hygiene

Poor sleep can exacerbate IBS symptoms, so establishing a regular sleep routine and practicing good sleep hygiene can help to improve sleep quality.

Support Systems

Building a support network of family, friends, and healthcare professionals can provide emotional support and practical assistance in managing IBS symptoms. Joining support groups and seeking out mental health professionals can also be helpful.

Mindful Eating

Eating mindfully, slowly and chewing food thoroughly can help to alleviate IBS symptoms.

Mind-Body Techniques

Mind-body techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation, which can alleviate IBS symptoms.

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