font size


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) definition

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder characterized by the presence of a cluster of symptoms that includes abdominal pain, altered bowel habits, increased gas, bloating (distention), cramping, and food intolerance.

Irritable bowel syndrome is a "functional" disorder. This term refers to the changes in the functioning of the digestive system that results in the collection of symptoms referred to as IBS. Meaning that it is a problem with the movement (motility) rather than any damage to the tissues of the digestive system.

In the past, irritable bowel syndrome was also called spastic colon or bowel, functional bowel disease, mucous colitis, or nervous colon. IBS is not the same as colitis, which is a group of separate conditions also referred to as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

What causes irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

The exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is unknown. It is believed to be due to a number of factors including alteration in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract motility, abnormal nervous system signals, increased sensitivity to pain, and food intolerances. Some factors believed to cause IBS include:

  • Abnormal movements of the colon and small intestines (too fast or slow, or too strong)
  • Hypersensitivity to pain from a full bowel or gas
  • Food sensitivities, possibly caused by poor absorption of sugars or acids in food
  • Gastroenteritis, a viral or bacterial infection of the stomach and intestines, may trigger IBS symptoms
  • Psychological conditions such as anxiety or depression are observed in many people with IBS, though they have not been found to be a direct cause of IBS.
  • Reproductive hormones or neurotransmitters may be off-balance in people with IBS
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Genetics is thought to be a possible cause of IBS, but so far this link has not been proven.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/28/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - Diagnosis Question: How was your case of IBS diagnosed?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - Treatments Question: What treatments have been effective to treat your case of IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - Diet Question: What dietary changes have you made that have improved your case of IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - Medications Question: What medications have been effective in treating your symptoms of IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) - Symptoms Question: What symptoms have you experienced with IBS? What foods seem to trigger IBS episodes?
Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/irritable_bowel_syndrome_ibs/article.htm

GI Disorders

Get the latest treatment options.

advertisement
advertisement
Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations