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    Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Health Center

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    Irritable Bowel Syndrome

    IBS affects between 25 and 45 million Americans. Most of them are women. People are most likely to get the condition in their late teens to early 40s.

    IBS is a mix of belly discomfort or pain and trouble with bowel habits: either going more or less often than normal (diarrhea or constipation) or having a different kind of stool (thin, hard, or soft and liquid).

    Recommended Related to Irritable Bowel Syndrome

    A Diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome With Diarrhea

    Smart eating habits can make your life a little easier when you have irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea, or IBS-D. And you don't have to completely give up any foods you like. "Moderation is important," says Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, author of the American Dietetic Association (ADA) Guide to Better Digestion. It's important to stick to a balanced diet when you have IBS. So never totally avoid certain groups of food, or you may be depriving yourself of nutrients you need.

    Read the A Diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome With Diarrhea article > >

    It’s not life-threatening, and it doesn't make you more likely to get other colon conditions, such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, or colon cancer. But IBS can be a long-lasting problem that changes how you live your life. People with IBS may miss work or school more often, and they may feel less able to take part in daily activities. Some people may need to change their work setting: shifting to working at home, changing hours, or even not working at all.

    What Are the Symptoms of IBS?

    People with IBS have symptoms that can include:

    • Diarrhea (often described as violent episodes of diarrhea)
    • Constipation
    • Constipation alternating with diarrhea
    • Belly pains or cramps, usually in the lower half of the belly, that get worse after meals and feel better after a bowel movement
    • A lot of gas or bloating
    • Harder or looser stools than normal (pellets or flat ribbon stools)
    • A belly that sticks out

    Stress can make symptoms worse.

    Some people also have urinary symptoms or sexual problems.

    There are four types of the condition. There is IBS with constipation (IBS-C) and IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D). Some people have an alternating pattern of constipation and diarrhea. This is called mixed IBS (IBS-M).  Other people don’t fit into these categories easily, called unsubtyped IBS, or IBS-U.

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