Digestion * Nutrition 

Health * Fitness




Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) 

-Facts You Need to Know

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)


Abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea are all typical symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Other names for this disorder include irritable colon, mucous colitis, spastic colon or spastic colitis, and nervous stomach. Although IBS is not dangerous, the symptoms can be very painful and bothersome. Most people who have IBS have a mild form, which they can cope with quite well without getting any treatment. But sometimes the symptoms are so strong that they significantly affect people’s everyday lives and cause distress. There is no cure for IBS. Over time, though, many people find out what makes them feel better, and what makes them feel worse. And various things can relieve the symptoms. Irritable Bowel Syndrome - IBS Home Remedy


The typical symptoms of IBS include constant stomach ache or lower abdominal pain, abdominal cramps, as well as a change in the consistency of the stool. It tends to cause constipation in women and diarrhea in men, but both sexes can have either form. Some people may have both diarrhea and constipation. Feeling very full, flatulence (gas) or mucous discharge may also be signs of IBS. These symptoms often go away on their own over time, but they can return after a while.


IBS mostly affects the large intestine. This is where the last phase of digestion takes place. The muscles of the large intestine move the food mass, which is still quite soft at first, slowly but steadily forward through the digestive tract. Extra water is taken out, and the indigestible food mass thickens to form stool.


If the intestinal muscles move the food mass through the intestine too quickly, the food mass does not lose enough water and people get diarrhea. If, on the other hand, they transport the food mass too slowly, people might get constipation. If the intestinal muscles contract violently, they might cause painful cramps.


Although the causes of IBS are not fully understood, there are many theories. For example, it is thought that oversensitive nerves in the intestine, intestinal muscle disorders and inflammations of the intestinal wall could all play a role. It has also been observed that IBS is more common among people who have had an intestinal infection. Some people with irritable bowel syndrome have more bacteria in their small intestine. A genetic predisposition may also play a role. Psychological stress, dietary habits and food intolerances are thought to be possible triggers too. Yet for many of these factors it is not clear whether they are a cause or result of IBS – and whether they actually contribute to the symptoms.

Frequency of occurrence

IBS mostly affects people between 35 and 50 years of age. Including the milder forms, about 14 out of 100 women and 9 out of 100 men are affected.


Several different medical criteria are used in the diagnosis of IBS. According to specialist medical associations in Germany, someone is considered to have irritable bowel syndrome if


  • they have had symptoms such as stomach ache or flatulence for more than three months, and those symptoms are being caused by the bowel and are usually accompanied by change in the stool. Their frequency of bowel movements may change, or they might have diarrhea or constipation.
  • they have experienced a noticeable decrease in quality of life due to the symptoms.
  • there is no reason to believe that the symptoms are being caused by another disease.
But these symptoms could be caused by other things too, like lactose intolerance (where people cannot digest dairy products properly). They may also be signs of gluten intolerance (also called celiac disease or sprue). Gluten is a protein that is found in different types of grains and many different foods. Blood tests and other tests can rule out that the symptoms are being caused by these food intolerances. But people sometimes have both irritable bowel syndrome and a food intolerance at the same time.


If you have any of the following symptoms as well, they are likely to be caused by another bowel disease:

  • significant weight loss
  • blood in the stool
  • a fever
  • anemia
These could be signs of, for instance, an inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Another possible cause is diverticulitis, an inflammation caused by stool getting stuck in pockets in the bowel wall. Sudden severe abdominal pain could also be a sign of gallstones.


Although it could be a sign of bowel cancer if you have digestive problems together with symptoms such as blood in the stool, this disease is very rare in people under the age of 50.


There is a lot of advice out there about what can help relieve irritable bowel syndrome. Common recommendations include dietary changes or getting exercise. But most of this advice has not been tested in high-quality studies. Something that helps one person may end up making things worse for someone else. This means that trial and error is often the only way to see if something works.

For example, someone who thinks that a particular type of food is making the symptoms worse can try to avoid eating it for a while. Some people say they have fewer symptoms when they eat their meals in smaller portions throughout the day. Keeping a diary can help you figure out whether doing specific things like exercising more or avoiding certain types of food have any effect. This way you can record what you eat and do each day, as well as how strong the symptoms are, over a longer period of time. It might be possible to recognize patterns over time.

There are also many different treatments that aim to relieve the symptoms of IBS. Because the causes of IBS are not clear, it is difficult to find suitable treatments. But research has suggested that at least some medications and treatments may help. Treatments for IBS include:


  • Fiber supplements, for instance made from psyllium
  • Peppermint oil
  • Probiotics
  • Anti-cramping medications
  • Medication for diarrhea or constipation
  • Different medications, such as antibiotics or antidepressants
  • Psychological treatments, such as stress management or hypnosis
Because medications in particular can have a number of side effects and can sometimes even make the symptoms worse, it is always worth carefully weighing the advantages and disadvantages.

Learn more:

Irritable bowel syndrome: What can help? Irritable Bowel Syndrome - IBS Home Remedy