Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a common condition that causes a variety of chronic digestive symptoms. People with irritable bowel syndrome may have digestive systems that are more sensitive to stress and certain types of foods. The symptoms of IBS can be very similar to the symptoms of some other gastointestinal diseases, such as celiac disease, that may have serious complications, so it is worth seeking medical attention for chronic digestive problems. IBS is diagnosed by ruling out other conditions with similar symptoms. Fortunately, the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can be managed and the condition causes no permanent damage to the digestive system.
People with irritable bowel syndrome experience frequent diarrhea or constipation. Some people with IBS even experience both problems in an alternating cycle. Abdominal cramping and pain are also common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Gas and bloating may also occur in some cases.
The symptoms of IBS vary in severity as well as how long they last. In order for a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome, the symptoms have to be present for at least three months and for more than three days per month. Some people with IBS have symptoms that are basically present all of the time, and others have symptoms that come and go. In some cases, it may be possible to identify things that trigger the IBS symptoms, like food and stress, and control these triggers to help control the symptoms of IBS.