Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a functional bowel disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract characterized by recurrent abdominal pain and discomfort accompanied by alterations in bowel function, diarrhea, constipation or a combination of both, typically over months or years.

The cause of IBS is unknown.

A diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome has been reported by approximately 15% of adults in the United States, and symptoms of IBS are responsible for over 3.5 million yearly visits to physicians. Research suggests that Irritable Bowel Syndrome is one of the most common functional GI disorders and is one of the most common reasons for consultation with a primary care physician or gastroenterologist.

Despite IBS showing to have a significant negative impact on health-related quality of life, only 30% of people with IBS symptoms seek medical attention.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is found predominantly in women in a 2:1 ratio versus men.

There are several subtypes of IBS.

• IBS-D: Diarrhea predominant

• IBS-C: Constipation predominant

• IBS-A or IBS-M: Alternating, or mixed, between constipation and diarrhea

• IBS-PI: Post Infectious IBS

• PDV-IBS: Post Diverticulitis IBS

Some of the things you may have heard from family or friends about IBS are just myths about IBS.  IBS sufferers may experience multiple symptoms of diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, abdominal distention, excessive flatulence, bloating, a continual urge to defecate, urgency to get to a toilet, incontinence, a sensation of incomplete evacuation, straining with a bowel movement, hard / lumpy stools, or even an inability to have a bowel movement at all. A subset of Irritable Bowel Syndrome sufferers may have co-morbidities with other digestive health disorders namely; GERD / Heartburn, Dyspepsia, Chronic Constipation, Chronic Abdominal Pain, Fibromyalgia, Pelvic pain or perhaps Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, known collectively as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). For instance, 29% of GERD patients have Chronic Constipation. Diagnosis can shift from one motility disorder to another over time; however, co-morbidity in IBS may be due to a general amplification of symptom reporting and physician consultation rather than a direct association. A research study illustrated that patient education in diet, exercise, and stress management showed significant improvement in pain and symptoms at 1 and 6 months of treatment. An educational approach and appropriate use of medications should be components of a physician-based IBS treatment plan.