Symptoms of IBS

Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrom (IBS) can vary from mild to severe

Everyone has experienced some form of stomach upset, abdominal cramps, discomfort, bloating, gas, diarrhea or constipation. IBS symptoms however are more severe and persistent, and often require diet management and care from a physician.

IBS is a "functional disorder", which means that there is no known cause for it. Symptoms could be caused by psychological or dietary factors.

Patients with IBS may experience one orall of the following symptoms:

  • Stomach and intenstinal discomfort and pain that is relieved by a bowel movement
  • Altered bowel habits such as diarrheaor constipation
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Flatulence
  • Pain or discomfort when passing stool
  • Sudden urgency to empty the bowel
  • Difficulty passing stool
  • Feeling of incomplete evacuation

IBS is characterized in three different ways:

IBS-D (diarrhea)
IBS-C (constipation)
IBS-A (alternating between diarrhea and constipation, sometimes in the same bowel movement)

Chronic gastrointestinal disorder can become quite severe for some sufferers. It can be debilitating, changing to extremes from diarrhea to constipation without notice. IBS causes sudden urgencies, painful cramping and bloating.

Incidences or “flares” can occur from eating or drinking certain foods called "triggers" since they can trigger a reaction. Each IBS patient will have unique sensitivities to certain foods such as fiber, dairy, gluten, or a number of other foods. In some cases, stress can make the symptoms worse. Up to 25% of people recovering from bacterial or viral infection experience symptoms of IBS. Some women undergoing hormone therapy may also experience IBS.

Woman comforting another woman.

  • Pain in IBS may be constant, alternating or sporadic. Some symptoms appear after a meal, or suddenly with no apparent reason and may dissipate quickly. The pain can be felt in different areas of your intestines.
  • IBS is often confused with other inflammatory diseases such as IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) since the symptoms are similar, but there is a marked difference between the two. IBS has no evidence of inflammation or infection.
  • IBS can impact other aspects of your life and is believed to affect your sleep pattern, cause back pain, chronic pelvic pain, interstitial cystitis, joint disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and migraine headaches. Women have also reported discomfort during intercourse.
  • IBS may impair work and social activities, leaving the patient feeling isolated, depressed, or suffering other psychological problems. The condition is disruptive and may hinder one’s self-esteem and their outlook on. This in turn may generate anger, fear and even guilt for the impositions caused to loved ones and friends. These feelings create even more stress for the patient. All these can be alleviated with support and counselling.
IBS can be managed and patients can take control of their symptoms. Talk to your doctor about a IBS treatment plan.