What is IBS?

Here Are Some Quick Facts:

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a complicated illness that effects the intestines (also known as bowels).


This pictures shows what your bowels look like. The red is the large intestine, the pink is the small intestine.

This pictures shows what your bowels look like. The red is the large intestine, the pink is the small intestine.


IBS is a “syndrome.” The word syndrome means a group of symptoms and signs that indicate a disease or health problem.

Some of the Symptoms of IBS Include:

  • Intestinal gas
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

There are many more.

For more information about IBS symptoms go to the IBS Symptoms page.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a “functional” medical problem.

That means there is is nothing structurally wrong with your bowels. Instead, the problem comes from how the bowels function.

You Are Not Alone

One person out of 5 has symptoms of IBS.

Women are twice as likely as men to have IBS. Those numbers may not be accurate though. Women might be more willing to talk to their doctors about IBS Symptoms. Men, women and children all get IBS.

Hormones play a part in IBS. Many women report a worsening of symptoms during menstruation.

IBS Often Runs in Families

You may have heard other people in you family talking about
spastic colon or nervous stomach or many other names for IBS. Your family may have tried things that can help YOU! Find out more here.

No One Knows for Sure What Causes IBS.

One theory is that the intestines overreact to signals of stress or anxiety coming from the brain; the classic nervous stomach.

Finding ways to reduce stress and anxiety is one effective way to help IBS.

Food sensitivities or food allergies can trigger an IBS attack. Finding and eliminating foods that don’t agree with you can make a dramatic difference.

Note that food sensitivities are not the same as allergies. You may not be “allergic” to a food, but it can still be a major cause of your IBS symptoms.

At the Doctor’s Office.

Doctors use blood tests, stool samples and other methods to rule out many different conditions before diagnosing you with irritable bowel syndrome.

Some of the tests your doctor might recommend are unpleasant, but you should have them anyway. You want to make sure you don’t have a different or even a dangerous condition.

When you talk to your doctor, he or she may ask a series of questions from the “Rome III Diagnostic Criteria.” This questionnaire was developed by the Rome Foundation.

The Rome Foundation was formed by doctors and scientists from around the world to investigate functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs).

If your Doctor uses the Rome Diagnostic Criteria That’s a good sign. It means the Doctor has some knowledge about IBS. Some doctors may not have this up to date information.

Not all doctors have the same skills. If you feel that your doctor is unwilling or unable to help you, you may need to find another one.

Finding the right doctor can make a big difference.

IBS can seriously affect your quality of life. Some people may even be unable to work. Others may have trouble taking even short trips.

But don’t lose hope. Using the information on this site, you can get better!

Find out more about IBS symptoms and what causes IBS.

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