What is IBS?

Stomach Issues

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the name given to a longstanding illness consisting of frequent abdominal discomfort and bowel symptoms that cannot be explained by any other disease.

Symptoms include:

  • Abdominal cramps, often relieved by going to the toilet
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Frustrated defaecation (needing to go to the toilet but not being able to)
  • Wind

Other common symptoms that may be associated with IBS:

  • Tiredness

  • Nausea

  • Heartburn and indigestion

  • Backache

  • Needing to pass urine frequently

  • Headaches

  • Muscle pains

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

IBS is an illness that has no specific cause, no distinctive pathology and no single effective treatment.  The symptoms can vary from person to person and in the same person different times but often in response to what happens or changes in diet or lifestyle.  

Physiological studies have shown that the gut in IBS tends to be more sensitive and reactive (irritable). Causes of this may include a traumatic or upsetting event or situation or an attack of gastroenteritis. 

It is more common in women than men (3:2), tends to start in teenage or twenties and may persist on and off throughout life, often depending on what is happening. 

For more information about IBS, log in or join to become a member of The IBS Network and click on the following links.   

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