Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome


Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. It is unrelated to IBD and is characterised by serious tummy discomfort or pain and difficult bowel habits. There are 4 types of IBS – IBS with constipation (IBS – C). IBD with Diarrhoea (IBS – D), IBS with a combination of constipation and diarrhoea (IBS – M), and IBS – U for patients who don’t fall into the first 3 categories. IBS doesn’t increase your likelihood of colon cancer or other colon conditions, but it can seriously affect your quality of life.

Signs and symptoms

IBS symptoms usually include diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal cramps, gas and bloating, mucous in your stools, heartburn and a feeling of incontinence.

Causes and risk factors

The cause of IBS isn’t clear, but medical science has identified the triggers – stress, smoking, foods containing lactose, gluten, caffeine or carbonation. IBS occurs more commonly in people under the age of 50, especially women.


Chronic IBS can lead to haemorrhoids. It has also been shown to adversely affect the patient’s quality of life and performance, in addition to their mental health.


There is no definitive test to diagnose IBS. The doctor will require a complete medical history, a physical exam and tests to rule out other conditions like Coeliac disease, lactose intolerance, or infection. The patient usually needs to have experienced abdominal pain once a week for the last 3 months, experience pain during bowel movements and have altered consistency of stools.

Treatment and Surgical Interventions

IBS can often be controlled by managing stress and diet factors. The doctor may also suggest laxatives, anti-diarrhoea drugs, or antacids to manage immediate symptoms. Fecal Microbiota Transplantation (FMT) is an upcoming treatment plan for IBS, currently in clinical trials.


IBS is linked to stress and diet, so keeping these factors under control will reduce your risk. Practice meditation or mindfulness to relieve anxiety and stress, and be sure to take your anti-anxiety medication or anti-depressants if applicable. Following a clean and healthy diet with a good amount of fibre will also help. Reduce intake of alcoholic and carbonated beverages.


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