I am on the road to IBS normalcy. I even drove to an open house at a University that is over two hours away - something that I would not have dreamed of just six weeks ago. Thank you, Heather! — Laura K.
Do you have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)? You're not alone!
You may feel like you're the only person in the world with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). You're not. Living with IBS does not mean suffering in silence or just enduring the misery. This site offers IBS information, support, and immediate tangible help for all Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms. We're the largest IBS organization and IBS community on the internet, with over 250,000 subscribers - welcome home!
IBS - What Is It? Irritable Bowel Syndrome? Spastic Colon?
IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (also known as spastic colon, and sometimes improperly termed spastic colitis) is a devastating and incurable condition that afflicts up to 20% of the world's population. It is the most common chronic health disorder in America, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, affecting more people than asthma, diabetes, and depression combined.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects more than twice as many women as men, for reasons that are not yet understood. IBS is a physical — not psychological — disorder characterized by lower abdominal pain (spasms or cramps) or discomfort, diarrhea, constipation (or alternating diarrhea & constipation), gas, bloating, and nausea. There is no cure for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which is actually a brain-gut dysfunction, but there are many very effective ways of controlling and even eliminating IBS symptoms through safe Irritable Bowel Syndrome treatments.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms - What Are They? How is IBS Diagnosed?
It's important to verify that your symptoms match those of Irritable Bowel Syndrome before you accept this diagnosis. As noted, IBS is characterized by continuous or recurrent lower abdominal pain or cramping (from mild to excruciating) in association with altered bowel motility (diarrhea, constipation, or both). Attacks may strike suddenly at any time of day or night, and may occasionally — though not typically — wake you from a sound sleep. Gas and bloating are common, but vomiting isn't, though it can occur due to nausea from the pain. Upper GI symptoms are not a typical part of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. For women, attacks are often associated with menstruation. Passing blood, running a fever, swollen extremities, and joint pain are not symptoms of IBS, and point to other disorders. IBS is diagnosed in part by the use of the official diagnostic criteria known as the Rome Guidelines for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diagnosis? These Diseases Must Be Ruled Out First!
In addition to verifying that your symptoms match those of the Rome Guidelines, it's also important that the following diseases are excluded before you accept a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
Colon, carcinoid, medullary thyroid cancers
Inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis)
Diverticulosis / Diverticulitis
Gallstones & Idiopathic Bile Acid Malabsorption
Food allergies & intolerances
Celiac (a genetic, autoimmune disorder resulting in gluten intolerance)
Bacterial infections and SIBO
As a rule, all possible physical, structural, and infectious abnormalities of the GI tract need to be unquestionably eliminated before you agree to an Irritable Bowel Syndrome diagnosis. This requires a physical examination, preferably by a board-certified gastroenterologist. The medical tests needed to rule out disorders other than IBS will depend upon your age, health history, family health background, and specific symptoms.
Once you have a firm IBS diagnosis, take heart. While there is no cure yet, there are many ways to successfully manage - and prevent - all Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms. You can control your IBS, not vice versa.