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MILWAUKEE WI (February 24, 2006) - One common concern of patients with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome is that they have "something else."

IBS, which affects up to one in every five people, is characterized by chronic or recurring abdominal pain or discomfort associated with diarrhea, constipation or other changes in bowel patterns. It often can be diagnosed during a medical history and physical examination by its symptoms alone or along with limited testing.

"Patients sometimes worry they have some other disease, especially if their symptoms are persistent or severe, or if they know other people who had similar symptoms but a different disorder," explains Dr. Lin Chang, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Digestive Diseases at UCLA.

Colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease may cause IBS-like symptoms, but affected individuals usually have other symptoms that are not frequently present in IBS. They also can be diagnosed by specialized tests.

Gynecological disorders, like endometriosis and ovarian cancer, can cause chronic lower abdominal pain and bloating, but these symptoms are not usually related to meals or defecation as in IBS. However, gastrointestinal symptoms can be vague and a gynecologic exam can help distinguish these disorders from IBS. Women should have annual pelvic examinations whether or not they have IBS symptoms.

Tips for Dealing with IBS

  • Educate yourself about IBS.
  • Use a diary to identify factors that influence symptoms.
  • Partner with your doctor. Establish treatment goals and develop a plan to manage your symptoms.
  • Join a patient organization, like IFFGD, for support and ongoing information.

Certain symptoms, like unexplained weight loss or rectal bleeding, are not typical of IBS and signal the need for additional tests to identify other conditions. Remember that IBS is common and people may sometimes have another coexisting disorder that is not responsible for their IBS symptoms. Doctors can help sort this out.

"It is important to talk to your doctor. Once your physician has made a confident diagnosis, you can focus on developing a treatment plan with your doctor," says Nancy Norton, president and founder of the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. "Education is an important first step in that process."

For more information about IBS, visit or call (888) 964-2001.



About the IFFGD

The IFFGD is a nonprofit education and research organization whose mission it is to inform, assist and support people affected by gastrointestinal disorders. With an international group of experts from multiple disciplines who serve on the organization's medical advisory board, the IFFGD is a resource for anyone seeking increased knowledge about gastrointestinal disorders for both adults and children. For more information, visit IFFGD’s website at

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2016-0801 Learn the Facts About Gastroparesis
2016-0405 Think You Have IBS? Find Out For Sure Before Starting a Treatment
2015-1123 Is it More than Simple Heartburn? Ask Your Doctor.
2015-7-30 Gastroparesis is a Hidden Medical Condition for Many
2015-0330 Online Survey Looks to Help Improve Outcomes for those with IBS
2014-1119 Persistent Heartburn May Be a Sign of GERD
2014-0826 Lack of Awareness of Gastroparesis May Impact Medical Care
2014-0326 IFFGD Marks IBS Awareness Month with Launch of Mobile App
2014-0225 IFFGD Research Grants to Study Gastroparesis
2013-1106 15 Tips for GERD Awareness Week
2013-0626 New
2013-0412 IFFGD Presents 2013 Research Awards
2013-0401 Turning Attention to Returning Vets
2012-1109 Banish Frequent Heartburn by Burning More Calories
2012-0321 April is IBS Awareness Month: A Serious Issue for Veterans
2006-0418 Natl Commission
2001-1119 Heartburn or Heart Attack
2006-0321 Women's Health
2011-1130 Is Your Child's Reflux/Spitting Up A Point of Concern?
2006-0202 IBS or Something Else
2011-0412 IFFGD Research Award Winners
2005-1125 GERD Costs
2005-0412 IBS Awareness
2011-0329 IBS Signs You Should Not Ignore
2010-1118 GERD Difference
2004-1125 Heartburn & Heartache
2004-0929 Norton Honored
2009-1109 GERD at Night
2010-0517 US House Resolution for IBS
2010-1001 Heartburn or GERD?
2006-1116 GERD & Holidays
2007-0401 IBS Myths
2009-0417 IFFGD Research Award Recipients
2004-0525 IBS Travel Tips
2007-1118 When Is Simple Heartburn Not So Simple?
2008-0331 Dealing with Digestive Disorders
2004-0101 IFFGD Conference
2004-0408 IBS Medical Care
2007-0718 Proposed FDA Funding Applauded
2003-1117 GERD Treatment
2003-0401 IFFGD Research Awards
2003-0401 IBS Awareness
2002-1102 Heartburn Caution
2002-0423 IBS in Real World
2002-0423 IBS-C Treatment
2002-0402 IBS & Lost Potential
2001-0322 Patients First
1998-0401 IBS Millions Suffer
1997-1114 Research & Women's Health
Misunderstood Functional GI Disorders
IBS is No Joking Matter
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Education and Research

Our mission is to inform, assist and support people affected by gastrointestinal (GI) disorders.

IFFGD works with patients, families, physicians, health care professionals, and others to broaden understanding about gastrointestinal disorders and support or encourage research.

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