Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size


Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include:

You are more likely to have IBS if you have these symptoms and they have lasted at least 6 months, you have had belly pain at least 3 days each month for at least 3 months, and at least two of the following are true:1

Recommended Related to Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) With Constipation

People who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and constipation often find relief from a combination of therapies. Health care providers may suggest changes in diet, exercise, and stress management, as well as medication. Some doctors may also recommend behavioral therapies such as relaxation, biofeedback, or hypnosis. The goal of IBS treatment, after all, is to do more than just ease bowel problems. It is also to soothe the stomachaches, pain, and bloating that can come with IBS. No matter...

Read the Treating Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) With Constipation article > >

  • The pain is relieved by having a bowel movement.
  • The pain is linked to a change in how often you have a bowel movement.
  • The pain is linked to a change in the appearance or consistency of your stool.

Because there are no structural problems in the intestines of people who have IBS, some people may think this means that the symptoms "are all in their head." This isn't true. The pain, discomfort, and bloating are real. They have many different causes that can be addressed to help relieve symptoms.

Bowel movement patterns

When you have IBS, your pattern of bowel movements may be different over time. Two or more of the following may happen:

  • Bowel movements may occur either more often (diarrhea) or less often (constipation) than usual. For example, you may have more than 3 bowel movements a day or less than 3 a week.
  • Bowel movements may differ in size or consistency. They may be hard and small, pencil-thin, or loose and watery.
  • The way stools pass changes. You may strain, feel an urgent need to have a bowel movement, or feel that you haven't completely passed a stool.
  • You may have bloating or a feeling of gas in the intestines.

Other intestinal symptoms

Some people may have pain in the lower belly with constipation that is sometimes followed by diarrhea. Other people have pain and mild constipation but no diarrhea.

Some people have intestinal gas and passage of mucus in stools.

Nongastrointestinal symptoms

You may sometimes have other symptoms that don't affect the intestines, such as:

Symptoms often occur after a meal, during stressful times, or during menstruation.

There are many other conditions with symptoms similar to IBS.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

filling glass of water from faucet
Prevention strategies to try.
stomach ache
From symptoms to treatments.
Causes, symptoms, and treatments.
worried mature woman
Are they related?
IBS Trigger Foods
Supplements for IBS What Works
IBS Symptoms Quiz
digestive health
gluten free diet
digestive myths
what causes diarrhea
top foods for probiotics