Irritable bowel syndrome

Alternative Names

Spastic colon; Irritable colon; Mucous colitis; Spastic colitis

Definition of Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) refers to a disorder that involves abdominal pain and cramping, as well as changes in bowel movements.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

There are many possible causes of IBS. For example, there may be a problem with muscles in the intestine, or the intestine may be more sensitive to stretching or movement. There is no problem with the structure of the intestine.

Symptoms

Symptoms range from mild to severe. Most people have mild symptoms. Symptoms vary from person to person.

Signs and tests

Most of the time, your doctor can diagnose IBS based on your symptoms, with few or no tests. Eating a lactose-free diet for 2 weeks may help the doctor evaluate for a possible .

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms.

Expectations (prognosis)

Irritable bowel syndrome may be a lifelong condition. For some people, symptoms are disabling and reduce the ability to work, travel, and attend social events.

Review

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, Unviersity of Washington School of Medicine; and George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 7/7/2010

Digestive system

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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