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Is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) a real medical condition?

ANSWER

Though no one fully understands what causes IBS, doctors do agree that IBS is a bona fide medical condition. They do not think it's "all in your head." According to the American College of Gastroenterology, IBS is also clearly defined by what it is not:

  • It is not an anatomical or a structural problem.
  • It is not an identifiable physical or chemical disorder.
  • It is not a cancer and will not cause cancer.
  • It will not cause other gastrointestinal diseases.

SOURCES: 

Jeffrey Roberts, president and founder, IBS Self Help and Support Group. 

American College of Gastroenterology. 

Mayo Clinic. 

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

Harvard Health Publications: "Understanding and treating an irritable bowel."

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on May 12, 2017

SOURCES: 

Jeffrey Roberts, president and founder, IBS Self Help and Support Group. 

American College of Gastroenterology. 

Mayo Clinic. 

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse.

Harvard Health Publications: "Understanding and treating an irritable bowel."

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini on May 12, 2017

NEXT QUESTION:

What are the characteristics of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

    This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.