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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).

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    Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Symptom Journal

    An irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptom journal can help you and your doctor figure out what triggers your IBS, and how to deal with those triggers. Fill this out as soon as you experience symptoms. Print extra copies to have on hand. Remember, a variety of factors can set off IBS: Certain types of food, the volume of food, stress, medicines, your menstrual cycle, and your environment. You may find, for instance, that you tend to feel bloated after eating snacks during office meetings. Knowing...

    Read the Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Symptom Journal 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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