Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder in which abdominal discomfort or pain is associated with a range of symptoms. Typically, these include intermittent abdominal pain accompanied by diarrhea, constipation, or alternating episodes of both. Bloating or distention of the abdomen is also common, and other symptoms may be present as well.

In IBS, the normal functioning of the bowels are affected and don't work properly.

Sometimes motility is abnormal – the bowels move too much or too often, and sometimes they don't move enough or often enough.

Usually sensory perception is abnormal – the nerves in the bowels are more sensitive to stretch or movement and this can lead to more pain.

These abnormalities may in turn relate to disordered brain-gut communication, genetic factors, infection and altered gut bacteria, and intestinal inflammation.

Importantly with IBS there are no visible abnormalities seen by x-ray or endoscopy.

A knowledgeable physician can diagnose IBS by careful review of your symptoms, a physical examination, and selected diagnostic procedures that are often limited to a few basic tests.

IBS is a long-term, or chronic, condition. The first line of treatment for IBS includes general measures such as:

  • establishing an effective patient-physician relationship,
  • obtaining education about IBS, and
  • implementing lifestyle changes, which may be associated with symptoms.

If lifestyle changes do not completely relieve IBS symptoms, a number of medications and/or other therapies may be helpful.

Learn more about IBS


2020 Advocacy Event


Thank you for sharing your digestive health stories with Members of Congress in Washington, DC, during IFFGD's 2020 Virtual Advocacy Event.

Your voices have made a positive impact across Capitol Hill. You can continue to make a difference by contacting Congress.

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Working with Your Doctor

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Successful relationships with healthcare providers are an important part of managing life with a long-term digestive disorder.

Doctor–Patient Communication

How to Help Your Doctor Help You

How to Talk to Your Doctor

Stories of Hope

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Daily living, stress, struggle, the need for understanding, and the search for answers. 

These are your stories.
You are not alone.

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