Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Although IBS does not cause damage or inflammation, it causes the large intestine (colon) to be oversensitized and reactive.
The most common symptoms of IBS are related to the digestive tract, but some people experience other symptoms as well.
Many people with IBS are able to effectively manage their symptoms with treatments for IBS.
Everyone with IBS experiences GI symptoms. Symptoms can vary by the type of IBS and the individual. IBS symptoms can also change day by day and over time.
GI symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can include:
Depression and anxiety are common in those with IBS, as with all chronic illnesses.
Chronic diarrhea can cause dehydration.
The pain caused by IBS can sometimes be felt in the lower back or legs.
Many people with IBS notice that their IBS symptoms worsen when they eat certain foods, experience a stressful situation, or (for women) begin their menstrual period. Identifying and avoiding flare triggers is one way some people with IBS manage their condition. Common foods that trigger IBS flares include:
At what age do most people first experience IBS symptoms?
Most people are diagnosed with IBS before age 50.