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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

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Definition & Facts

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms—including pain or discomfort in your abdomen and changes in your bowel movement patterns—that occur together.

Symptoms & Causes

The most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) include pain or discomfort in your abdomen and changes in how often you have bowel movements or how your stools look. Doctors aren’t sure what causes IBS.

Diagnosis

Your doctor may be able to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) based on a review of your symptoms. Your doctor may not need to do medical tests or may do a limited number of tests.

Treatment

Though irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) doesn’t have a cure, your doctor can manage the symptoms with a combination of diet, medicines, probiotics, and therapies for mental health problems.

Eating, Diet, & Nutrition

Eating smaller meals more often, or eating smaller portions, may help your IBS symptoms. You should avoid foods and drinks that make your symptoms worse.

Clinical Trials

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and other components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct and support basic and clinical research into many digestive disorders.

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Related Research

This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. The NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings through its clearinghouses and education programs to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by the NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.