Munson Health
Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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by Wood D

(Functional Colitis; IBS; Intestinal Neurosis; Irritable Colon; Laxative Colitis; Mucous Colitis; Nervous Indigestion; Spastic Colon)



Symptoms usually come and go, and range from mild to severe. They include:
These factors may worsen your symptoms:
  • Stress
  • Menstrual periods
  • Large meals or fatty foods
  • Excess gas


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. In many cases, a diagnosis can be made based on this. Since there is no diagnostic test for IBS, doctors have created criteria for making a diagnosis.
Your doctor may order the following tests to rule out other conditions:
Your doctor may also screen you for celiac disease , which is more common in people with IBS.
Colonoscopy scope
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


There is no cure for IBS. Treatment focuses on controlling symptoms.


Participating in a regular exercise program can help improve bowel function and other IBS symptoms. If you would like to start exercising, check with your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough.

Stress Management

Talk to your doctor about ways to reduce stress , such as:


Learn as much as you can about IBS and ways that you can reduce your symptoms. You may also find it helpful to join a support group .


Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may recommend:
  • Antispasmodic agent (such as dicyclomine, alverine citrate)
  • Antibiotics (rifaximin [Xifaxan])
  • High-fiber bulking agent (psyllium)
  • Antiflatulent (simethicone)
  • Antidiarrheal agent (loperamide)
  • Low-dose antidepressant
  • Pain reliever (acetaminophen)—may help with crampy abdominal pain
  • Serotonin receptor agonists and antagonists (also called 5-HT3 antagonists)—may be helpful for treating diarrhea, as well as treating other IBS symptoms, like abdominal pain in women (alosetron)
  • Probiotics ("friendly" bacteria)—may be helpful, but talk to your doctor before taking
  • Peppermint oil
In some cases, your doctor may recommend that you take a combination of medicines.


American College of Gastroenterology

American Gastroenterological Association

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Association



Health Canada

Canadian Digestive Health Foundation



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