Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

27 Apr 2023
9 mins
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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

    Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal condition that affects the colon, commonly known as the large intestine. It is a widespread illness that affects millions of individuals worldwide, and symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. IBS can be difficult and annoying to live with, but most individuals can enjoy a normal, healthy life with proper management. This blog will look at the symptoms, causes, and treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  


    Symptoms Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) 


    The severity of  Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms varies from individual to person. The majority of people have quite minor symptoms. IBS is diagnosed when symptoms persist for at least three days per month for three months or more. The following are the primary symptoms,

    Abdominal Pain And Discomfort: Abdominal pain or discomfort is a common symptom of IBS. This discomfort can range from minor to severe and is frequently described as cramping or aching.


    Bloating: Another common Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptom is bloating, which is frequently coupled with abdominal pain. Bloating can make you feel bloated, uneasy, and gassy.


    Constipation: IBS can cause constipation, characterized by firm, lumpy stools that are difficult to pass. Constipation can induce bloating, stomach pain, and straining. It can be caused by the colon's muscles contracting too slowly.

    Diarrhea: IBS can result in diarrhea, which is characterized by frequent, loose, watery stools. Urgency and the sensation of an incomplete bowel movement may occur with diarrhea.

    Alternating Bowel Movements: Many people with IBS have alternating bowel patterns, which means they fluctuate between diarrhea and constipation. This can be a difficult symptom because it is unpredictable and can disrupt daily life.


    Mucus In The Feces: Some IBS patients may experience mucus in their feces. While this is not a major condition, it is unpleasant and embarrassing.


    Other Symptoms: IBS can also cause nausea, exhaustion, and back pain. These symptoms aren't always present, yet they are linked to IBS.


    It is crucial to remember that IBS symptoms might mimic those of other gastrointestinal disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and celiac disease. If you have persistent IBS symptoms, it is important to contact a doctor to rule out other diseases.

    Causes Of IBS

    Although the specific cause of IBS is unknown, various factors are thought to play a role in its development. Identifying and addressing these factors is vital in managing IBS symptoms and increasing the quality of life for those suffering from the condition.


    1. Nervous System Abnormalities

    The nervous system is essential in regulating the digestive system's activities. In those with IBS, the neural system may work abnormally, resulting in altered digestive function and symptoms such as stomach pain, bloating, and irregular bowel movements.


    2. Abnormalities In The Gut microbiome 

    Digestion abnormalities, such as alterations in gut motility, greater sensitivity to pain, and altered gut flora, may all contribute to the development of IBS. According to research, people with IBS may have an imbalance of specific bacteria in their gut, which causes inflammation and other symptoms.

    3. Psychological Aspects

    Some people's IBS symptoms have been linked to stress, anxiety, and other psychological variables. Psychological issues can influence how the neurological system interacts with the digestive system, resulting in symptoms including abdominal pain, bloating, and irregular bowel movements.


    4. Genetics

    Genetics IBS may have a genetic component. According to research, individuals with a family history of IBS are more likely to develop the disorder. Certain genes have also been linked to a higher chance of having IBS.


    5. Food Intolerances

    Food sensitivities may have a role in the development of IBS in certain people. Certain foods, such as dairy products, gluten, and specific types of carbohydrates, have been demonstrated to cause IBS symptoms in some people.


    6. Changes In Hormones

    Hormonal changes, particularly in women, may affect the development of IBS. According to research, changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle have been linked to IBS symptoms in some women. Hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause may play a role in IBS development.


    7. Medications

    Antibiotics, antidepressants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) may all contribute to developing IBS in certain people. These drugs may affect the balance of bacteria in the gut, causing inflammation and other symptoms to worsen.


    Treatment Options For IBS


    The purpose of irritable bowel syndrome treatment is to alleviate symptoms. 

    Changes In Lifestyle


    Making lifestyle changes is frequently the first line of IBS treatment for people with this condition. Changes in food, exercise, stress management, and sleep hygiene are examples of such alterations. Dietary modifications can be beneficial. However, because the illness varies from person to person, no precise diet can be prescribed for IBS.


    The following modifications may be beneficial:


    • Avoiding meals and beverages that stimulate the intestines (for example, caffeine, tea, and colas)
    • Consuming fewer meals
    • Increasing fibre in the diet (this may help with constipation or diarrhea but will aggravate bloating)




    There are several drugs available to assist manage IBS symptoms. These drugs operate in various ways to alleviate discomfort, bloating, and irregular bowel motions. Antispasmodics, laxatives, and antidepressants are some of the drugs used to treat IBS. Antispasmodics can assist in lessening digestive muscle spasms, while laxatives can aid with constipation. Antidepressants may aid in the reduction of pain and other symptoms. 



    Probiotics are healthy bacteria that can enhance gut health and relieve IBS symptoms. These bacteria can be found in foods like yogurt and they can be taken as a supplement. Probiotics have been found in studies to help lessen IBS symptoms, particularly in people with diarrhea-predominant IBS.


    Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.


    Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that can assist those suffering from IBS manage their symptoms. This therapy focuses on recognizing and replacing negative thought patterns and behaviors that may contribute to IBS symptoms with more positive and adaptive patterns. CBT has been demonstrated to be useful in lowering IBS symptoms and improving the quality of life for people suffering from the condition.



    IBS is a gastrointestinal syndrome that does not result in gastrointestinal damage. It can, however, create unpleasant and bothersome effects. Despite its prevalence, it can be difficult for a doctor to diagnose IBS due to a lack of diagnostic testing and also its symptoms overlap with many other disorders. IBS has no known cure. However, there are medicines available to assist people to manage their symptoms and regain a better quality of life.

    Written by
    Dr. Karpagam AnandMedical Content Writer
    AboutPharm. D
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