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Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a fairly common digestive complaint. It can present with symptoms such as gas, bloating, pain and diarrhoea (diarrhea) or constipation. It is a syndrome rather than a disease, meaning the digestive tract is essentially healthy but doesn't work correctly. One theory is that the muscles controlling the passage of waste through the bowels are not coordinated.

IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning all other possible causes of the symptoms should be ruled out before the diagnosis is made. In practice, diagnostic tests are expensive, time consuming and carry risks, so a doctor may diagnose IBS based solely on the patient's symptoms.

Many people confuse IBS and IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) partly because of the similar initials and partly the similar symptoms.

Occasionally people may be diagnosed with IBS and later found to have IBD. It is possible to have both IBS and IBD. But the majority of cases of IBS have nothing to do with IBD.

IBS can be controlled by avoiding foods that trigger symptoms, avoiding stress, and using medication to relieve the symtoms (e.g. Imodium to treat diarrhoea), and antibiotics to reduce bacterial numbers (such as in the case of Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).

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