What are the Most Common IBS Symptoms?

Article Details
  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article

The medical condition known as IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is often confused with other gastrointestinal ailments, and was once considered a psychosomatic illness triggered by stress. It is now widely recognized as a physical as well as stress-related condition which affects an estimated 20% of the adult population to some degree. Common IBS symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, excessive gas formation, diarrhea, constipation and mucus in the stool. Some IBS sufferers may also feel relief from these IBS symptoms immediately following a bowel movement, while others may experience the sensation of an incomplete bowel movement. Over-the-counter anti-gas or anti-diarrhea medications may provide temporary relief, but certain foods or stress often trigger a new cycle of IBS symptoms.


Some IBS sufferers experience IBS symptoms accompanied by chronic constipation, while others routinely experience bouts of diarrhea. Some people may experience both constipation and diarrhea during different IBS attacks. The difference between IBS-C and IBS-D lies in the way the sufferer's intestinal tract reacts to the triggering event. One person's IBS could cause spasms in the intestines or colon which cause food to move faster than normal through the digestive system, causing chronic diarrhea. Another person's IBS could cause food to move more slowly through the digestive system, causing chronic constipation. These abdominal spasms trigger many of the most common IBS symptoms, especially bloating, cramping and abdominal pain. This is also why IBS is also known as functional bowel syndrome, irritable colon, spastic bowel and spastic colon.

There are a number of theories concerning the triggering mechanism for IBS symptoms. Most IBS sufferers do not experience their first bouts until adulthood, which suggests IBS symptoms may be related to adult-level stressors. A person experiencing high levels of stress could develop digestive problems which lead to IBS. An unhealthy diet of fatty or fried foods, or regular consumption of beverages containing caffeine or alcohol could also be a factor. Many people become unable to digest dairy products containing lactose as they grow older, and the symptoms of lactose intolerance often resemble common IBS symptoms. Eating large meals instead of smaller meals throughout the day can also trigger IBS symptoms.

Currently, IBS is considered an incurable medical syndrome, but it can be controlled through medication, dietary modification and lifestyle changes. Many IBS sufferers learn to recognize certain foods and beverages which tend to aggravate their condition, although most medical professionals do not believe the foods themselves actually cause IBS. The spasms in the digestive tract are most likely triggered by an irritation of the nerves which control the muscular contractions of the intestines and colon. Reducing stress through relaxation techniques may reduce the severity and duration of the IBS attack, and the avoidance of irritating foods and beverages during an IBS cycle should keep the IBS symptoms from escalating.



Discuss this Article

Post 1

IBS symptoms are considered an incurable medical syndrome, but it can be controlled through medication, dietary modification and lifestyle changes.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?