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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), also called spastic colon, is a common problem with the intestines. In people with IBS, the intestines squeeze too hard or not hard enough so the food moves to fast or too slow through the intestine.  It is diagnosed by its signs and symptoms.  It does not lead to a serious disease and does not harm the colon.  It is more often seen in women than men and usually starts around age 20.


  • Abdominal pain and cramping that may go away after having a bowel movement
  • Abdominal pain for at least 12 weeks out of the last 12 months
  • Bloating and gas
  • Constipation
  • Feeling like you still need to have a bowel movement after you have already had one
  • Diarrhea, especially after eating or first thing in the morning
  • Mucus in the stool

These are NOT symptoms of IBS - You need to see your doctor if you have any of these symptoms

  • rectal bleeding
  • unexplained weight loss
  • persistent, severe pain
  • change in bowel habits

What make the symptoms worse?

  •  Large Meals
  •  Bloating from gas in the colon
  •  Medicines
  •  Wheat, rye, barley, chocolate, milk products, or alcohol
  •  Drinks with caffeine such as coffee, tea or colas
  •  Stress, conflict, emotional upsets
  •  Menstrual periods


  • No specific cause
  • Sensitive colon
  • Colon reacts to food and stress that would not bother most people

How is it diagnosed?

  •  Medical history and symptoms
  •  A physical exam
  •  There is no specific test for IBS but tests such as stool samples, x-rays or colonoscopy may be ordered to look for other diseases.         


  • There is no cure
  • The symptoms are treated
  • Change in diet: You may want to keep a journal to find out which food makes your symptoms worse
  • Eat small meals and eat them slowly
  • Drink 6-8 glasses of water a day
  • Don’t drink soda or chew gum since it will cause more gas
  • Medicines for constipation, diarrhea or antispasmotic
  • Increase fiber in your diet
  • Reduce stress
  • Counseling and support
  • Regular exercise
  • Getting a good night sleep