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Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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Definition

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) refers to a disorder of the lower intestinal tract. It involves abdominal pain and abnormal bowel movements. Emotional stress often makes the symptoms worse.

It is not the same as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Symptoms

Symptoms range from mild to severe. Most people have mild symptoms. IBS symptoms may be worse in patients who also have stress or mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. However, it is important to understand that these conditions do not cause IBS.

Symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal distention
  • Abdominal fullness, gas, bloating
  • Abdominal pain that:
    • Comes and goes
    • Is reduced or goes away after a bowel movement
    • Occurs after meals
  • Chronic and frequent constipation, usually accompanied by pain
  • Chronic and frequent diarrhea, usually accompanied by pain
  • Emotional distress
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
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