SIU School of Medicine

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Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS is a common disorder of the intestines that leads to crampy pain, gassiness, bloating, and change in bowel habits. Some people with IBS have constipation (difficult or infrequent bowel movements); others have diarrhea (frequent loose stools, often with an urgent need to move the bowels); and some people experience both. This condition is not well understood. A person with IBS seems to have a colon that is more sensitive and reactive than usual, so it responds strongly to stimuli that would not bother most people. Bleeding, fever, weight loss, and persistent severe pain are not usual symptoms of IBS and may indicate other problems.

IBS is usually diagnosed after the doctor excludes more serious organic diseases. The good news is that IBS has not been shown to lead to any future serious organic diseases such as colon cancer.