Heather's Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Terms & Definitions

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Wait! Not just a long boring list, this is your master resource for understanding all things IBS. Scroll down for all listings, and click main entries (Abdominal Pain, Bloating, etc.) that are underlined for comprehensive information and help on those topics.


Area between the chest and the hips that contains the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and spleen.

Abdominal Pain
Recurring lower abdominal pain (from mild discomfort to severe spasms), in association with bowel dysfunction (diarrhea and/or constipation), is one of the chief symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and results from a brain-gut dysfunction. Abdominal pain in general is defined as a nonspecific symptom that may be associated with a multitude of conditions.

A type of surgery that uses a laparoscope, which is inserted into one or more small incisions, to examine the abdominal cavity.

Accessory digestive organs
Organs that help with digestion but are not a direct part of the gastrointestinal (digestive) tract. These organs include the tongue, pancreas, liver, and gallbladder.

Acupuncture for IBS
Acupuncture is one of the ancient forms of traditional Chinese healing arts. The traditional Chinese perspective on acupuncture reflects the belief that the body is a complex and holistic physical/mental/emotional/spiritual system, balanced between health and sickness in a constantly changing flow of energy. According to this viewpoint, imbalances in this natural energy flow are thought to cause disease. Acupuncture, frequently in conjunction with the use of Chinese herbal and/or food medicine, restores health by balancing and improving the flow of chi, restoring proper function of muscles, nerves, vessels, glands, and organs.

Condition that occurs when a person swallows too much air; causes gas and frequent belching.

Alimentary canal
Synonym for gastrointestinal tract.

Pain perceived in non-sensory pathways. Allodynia is involved in the development of visceral hypersensitivity that characterizes IBS.

Alternative Medicine for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Amitiza (generic name lubiprostone) is a prescription drug for the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) constipation in adult women.

Drugs that calm muscle spasms in the colon, and often prescribed for abdominal pain from IBS. Bentyl, Levsin, and Donnatol are common brand names. Synonym for anti-spasmodic. Some Tricyclic antidepressants are also anticholinergic.

Antidepressants are comprised of several classes of drugs (such as SSRI antidepressants and Tricyclic antidepressants) that affect the uptake of serotonin - a neurotransmitter directly involved in the development of clinical depression - in the brain. However, the enteric nervous system of the gut is also rich with nerves that contain large amounts of serotonin - in fact, 95% of all serotonin in the body is found in the gut, not the brain - so the effect of antidepressants on the brain is felt as a peripheral result in the gut as well. Low doses of antidepressants can thus raise the pain threshold (and lower the visceral hypersensitivity) related to the abdominal cramps of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and they can also either increase or decrease (depending upon the class of drug) the rate of gastrointestinal contractions as well. This can alter bowel function in either direction and help diarrhea or constipation.The dosage of antidepressants used for Irritable Bowel Syndrome is typically far lower than that of the drug when used for depression. It is also crucial that the doctor prescribing this type of drug be very familiar with its use for IBS, as different classes have varying side effects. Some can greatly worsen, instead of help, Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms, depending on the patient. The long-term risks and consequences of taking low-dose antidepressants for Irritable Bowel Syndrome are unknown.

Medicines that help control diarrhea, such as Imodium, that are often prescribed for IBS.

Medicines that help reduce or stop GI tract muscle spasms. Bentyl, Levsin, and Donnatol are common brand names. Often prescribed for IBS and abdominal pain. Synonym for anticholinergics.

The last part of the gastrointestinal tract, the anus is at the extreme end of the rectum. It's composed of a sphincter muscle which relaxes to allow the passage of a bowel movement (fecal material).

Ascending colon
Part of the colon on the right side of the abdomen.


Barium swallow
Upper gastrointestinal (GI) examination series.

Bloating & Stomach Gas
Abdominal bloating in IBS is defined as a condition in which the abdomen feels full and tight -- this is often, but not always, caused by excessive intestinal or stomach gas.

The small intestines and large intestines.

Bowel movement
Fecal matter (body wastes) passed through the rectum and anus.

Bowel prep
Process used to clean the colon with enemas and laxatives before surgery of the colon, colonoscopy, or imaging exams.

Brain Gut Dysfunction
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, as defined by the Rome Criteria, is characterized as a brain-gut dysfunction. This means that the symptoms of the disorder result from the neurologic innervation of the gastrointestinal tract (specifically the enteric nervous system), associated with altered interpretation of neurologic messages from the GI tract by the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord).

Bulking agents
Synonym for soluble fiber supplements that normalize bowel movements. These are not laxatives, though may be marketed as such. Acacia, Benefiber, and Citrucel are common examples.


CA-125 test
A blood test to detect an elevated level of a protein antigen called CA-125, which may indicate ovarian cancer, among other disorders. Ovarian cancer has symptoms that can mimic IBS.

Experimental drug for Irritable Bowel Syndrome diarrhea. The medication is currently in clinical trials, and expected to be released in the prescription market sometime in 2005. Generic name is Cilansetron.

Campylobacter pylori
Name for the bacterium that causes ulcers - also known as Helicobacter pylori.

Beginning of the colon (large intestine) - connected to the lower part of the small intestine, or ileum.

An SSRI anti-depressant that stimulates serotonin production and can be helpful for constipation-predomimant IBS, but can exacerbate diarrhea-predominant IBS.

Celiac disease
A sensitivity to gluten, a wheat protein. Individuals with celiac must avoid gluten-containing grains, which include all forms of wheat, oats, barley, and rye. Celiac is often misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Children & Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Inflammation of the gallbladder wall.

Hormone released in the small intestine that causes muscles in the gallbladder and colon to tighten and relax.

Generic name for the drug Questran.

Experimental drug for Irritable Bowel Syndrome diarrhea. The medication is currently in clinical trials, and expected to be released in the prescription market sometime in 2005. Brand name is Calmactin.

Clostridium difficile (C. difficile.)
Bacteria normally present in the large intestine that make a substance that can cause a serious infection (pseudomembranous colitis), in patients taking antibiotics. C. Difficile can be misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Partial or complete removal of the large bowel or colon.

Inflammation of the colon. Can be of an infectious or non-infectious cause. Also a misnomer for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

A hollow organ in the GI tract, the colon (large intestine) has 6 major parts: cecum, ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon, sigmoid colon, and rectum. The total length is approximately 5 feet in an adult. The colon is responsible for forming, storing, and expelling fecal waste matter as bowel movements.

The cecum is the pouch-like beginning of the colon in the right lower quadrant of the abdomen (the appendix extends off the cecum).

The ascending colon is the next part of the organ, which starts in the right lower quadrant of the abdomen and ends at the transverse colon in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen.

The transverse colon is the third division of the large intestine. It communicates with the ascending colon and the descending colon.

The descending colon is the fourth portion of the large intestine. It communicates with the transverse colon above and the rectum below.

The sigmoid colon is an extension of mobile descending colon, and it connects to the descending colon above and the rectum below.

The rectum is the last portion of the large intestine. It communicates with the sigmoid colon above and the anus below.

Colon polyps
Small, fleshy, mushroom-shaped growths in the colon.

Colonic inertia
Condition of the colon when muscles do not work properly, causing constipation.

Colorectal cancer
Cancer of the colon (large intestine) or the rectum (the end of the large intestine).

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, as defined by the Rome Criteria, often has chronic constipation as one of its symptoms. Constipation is the passage of small amounts of hard, dry bowel movements, usually fewer than three times a week. People who are constipated may find it difficult and painful to have a bowel movement. Other symptoms of constipation include feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and sluggish.

Ability to hold in a bowel movement or urine.

Crohn's Disease
An inflammatory disorder affecting the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, usually the small intestine and/or large intestine.


Passage of a bowel movement through the rectum and anus.

Descending colon
Middle part of the colon, located on the left side of the abdomen.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, as defined by the Rome Criteria, often has chronic diarrhea as one of its symptoms. Diarrhea is defined as loose, watery stools occurring more than three times in one day. In diarrhea-predominant IBS there is more serotonin secreted from certain gut cells; this in turn intiates the peristaltic reflex, which then overactivates the lower colon, which causes diarrhea.

Diet for IBS
IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, as defined by the Rome Criteria, can often be managed successfully by the Eating for IBS diet

Process the body uses to break down food for energy, growth, and cell repair.

Digestive system
Group of organs that break down foods into chemical components that the body can absorb and use.

Digital rectal exam (DRE)
Procedure in which a doctor inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to examine the rectum and/or the prostate gland for signs of cancer.

Bloating or swelling of the abdomen.

Condition that occurs when small pouches (diverticula) push outward through weak spots in the colon wall.

Small pouch in the colon wall. If the pouches become infected or irritated the condition is diverticulitis. Plural is diverticula.

Inflammation of diverticula of the colon

Dumping syndrome
Condition when food moves too fast from the stomach into the small intestine. Also called rapid gastric emptying.

Infectious disease of the colon. Symptoms include bloody, mucus-filled diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain. Dystentery can cause an "insult to the gut" that precipitates the development of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Indigestion. Three in four people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome also suffer from functional dyspepsia.

Difficulty swallowing.


A tricyclic antidepressant that may reduce diarrhea-predominant IBS symptoms.

A procedure in which an endoscope (an instrument which enables the viewing of internal organs) by passage into the gastrointestinal tract through the mouth (upper endoscopy; enteroscopy) or rectum (sigmoidoscopy; colonoscopy; ileoscopy).

Liquid flushed into the rectum to clear out the bowel or to administer drugs.

Enteric nervous system
The network of nerves surrounding the gastrointestinal tract, that regulates the activity of the digestive system, and operates independently from the central nervous system. The enteric nervous system has over 100 million nerves, and is as complex as the spinal cord. It uses neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, acetylcholine, nitric oxide and norepinephrine, as well benzodiazepines (chemicals of the family of psychoactive drugs that includes Valium and Xanax). The enteric nervous system is dysfunctional in IBS patients.

Hernia in the intestine.

Examination of the small intestine with an endoscope.

A long hollow muscular tube in the GI tract that connects the mouth to the stomach.

Environmental Illness
An illness in which environmental triggers play a significant role in producing symptoms, and the illness itself.

Fatty liver
Build-up of fat in liver cells. Also called steatosis.

Fecal incontinence
Inability to hold stool in the colon and rectum.

Fecal occult blood test
Checks for hidden blood in stool to test for cancer of the colon or rectum.

FMS (fibromyalgia syndrome) is a widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorder for which the cause is still unknown. Fibromyalgia means pain in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons - the soft fibrous tissues in the body. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is found in roughly 40 to 70% of FMS patients.

Acronym that stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. FODMAPS include fructans, galactans, polyols, fructose, and lactose. A low FODMAP diet may be recommended for some people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Food intolerance
A food-induced reaction that does not involve the immune system.

Functional disorders
Conditions that result from improper nerve and/or muscle function without the presence of underlying disease. Also called motility disorders. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is classified as a brain-gut functional disorder.


The gallbladder is the organ that stores the bile made in the liver. It's connected to the liver by bile ducts.

Air that comes from the normal breakdown of food and is passed out of the body through the rectum (flatulence) or the mouth (belch). In Irritable Bowel Syndrome, often associated with bloating from stomach gas.

Related to the stomach.

Gastric juices
Liquids produced in the stomach to help break down food and kill bacteria.

Gastrocolic reflex
A partly neurogenic process in which there is an increase in colonic motility, triggered by the stomach upon eating. After-meal deviations from the normal gastrocolic reflex muscle contraction patterns lead to the altered bowel habits of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Infection or irritation of the stomach and intestines, which may be caused by bacteria or parasites from spoiled food or unclean water, or eating food that irritates the stomach lining and emotional upsets such as anger, fear, or stress.

Physician who specializes in digestive diseases.

Field of medicine concerned with the function and disorders of the digestive system.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
GERD is a digestive disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphincter (the muscle connecting the esophagus with the stomach). Gastroesophageal refers to the stomach and esophagus. Reflux means to flow back or return. Therefore, GERD is the return of the stomach's contents back up into the esophagus. GERD frequently causes heartburn or acid indigestion.

Gastrointestinal (GI) tract
Also called the alimentary canal or digestive tract. A large, muscular tube that extends from the mouth to the anus, where the movement of muscles and release of hormones and enzymes digest food.

Gluten sensitive enteropathy
Also called celiac sprue or celiac disease. A sensitivity to gluten, a wheat protein. Individuals with celiac must avoid gluten-containing grains, which include all forms of wheat, oats, barley, and rye.

Granulomatous colitis
Another name for Crohn's disease of the colon.

Granulomatous enteritis
Another name for Crohn's disease of the small intestine.

Gum arabic
Synonym for Acacia, a prebiotic soluble fiber supplement used to help Irritable Bowel Syndrome pain, diarrhea, and constipation.


The sensation of burning behind the breast bone (sternum), associated usually with reflux (regurgitation) of gastric and/or duodenal contents into the esophagus.

Hiatus Hernia
The result of upward displacement of the stomach through an opening in the diaphragm; may be associated with chest pain or heartburn.

Hormones and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

A lower pain threshold. Hyperalgesia is involved in the development of visceral hypersensitivity that characterizes IBS.


See Inflammatory Bowel Disease

See Irritable Bowel Syndrome. A brain-gut dysfunction affecting the gastrointestinal tract for which no specific underlying cause can be identified. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea and/or constipation, bloating, gas, and nausea. IBS can often be successfully managed by the Eating for IBS diet.

Of unknown origin. Many cases of IBS are idiopathic, as there is no known cause for the onset of the disorder.

Pertaining to the ileum, or lowest end of the small intestine.

Synonym for Crohn's Disease.

Irritation of the ileum (lower part of the small intestine) and colon.

Lower end of the small intestine.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

Insoluble Fiber
Insoluble fiber is a subclass of dietary fiber. Insoluble fiber is considered a "noncarbohydrate carbohydrate" since the components that make up insoluble fiber are lignins, cellulose, and hemicelluloses. All of these compounds form the structural parts of plants and do not readily dissolve in water and are not metabolized by intestinal bacteria. Insoluble fiber is a GI tract stimulant and, for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, a potential irritant..

Interstitial Cystitis (IC)
Interstitial cystitis, also known as Painful Bladder Sydrome, is a condition that results in recurring discomfort or pain in the bladder and the surrounding pelvic region. The symptoms vary but include mild discomfort, pressure, tenderness, or intense pain in the bladder and pelvic area. Symptoms may include an urgent need to urinate, a frequent need to urinate, or a combination of these symptoms. Pain may change in intensity as the bladder fills with urine or as it empties. Women's symptoms often worsen with menstruation. Women with IC sometimes experience pain during vaginal intercourse.

Because IC varies so much in symptoms and severity, most researchers believe it is not one, but several diseases. The term IC includes all cases of urinary pain that cannot be attributed to other causes, such as infection or urinary stones. IC sufferers frequently have Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms as well.

Intestinal flora
Flora such as bacteria, yeasts, and fungi that are normally present in the intestines.

Intestinal mucosa
Lining of the intestines where cells absorb nutrients.


Irritable Bowel Disease
Synonym (and misnomer) for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
A brain-gut dysfunction affecting the gastrointestinal tract for which no specific underlying cause can be identified. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea and/or constipation, bloating, gas, and nausea. Irritable Bowel Syndrome can often be successfully managed by the Eating for IBS diet.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Research Library

Irritable Colon
Synonym for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Ischemic Bowel Disease
Small and/or large intestine damage resulting from a deprivation of arterial blood flow to the affected organ, presenting usually with abdominal pain and rectal bleeding. Ischemic bowel disease is a serious potential side effect of the drug Lotronex, prescribed to women with diarrhea-predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome.


Middle part of the small intestine between the duodenum and ileum.


A byproduct of fat metabolism.

Two glands situated in the upper posterior abdominal cavity, one on either side of the spine. Their function is to filter the blood and eliminate waste in the form of urine.

Kidney Stones
Small, solid, crystalline, concretions that can develop in the kidney and eventually pass through the genitourinary tract. Stones may be composed of calcium, phosphate, or uric acid.


Surgery that involves an incision into the abdominal cavity; often used when making a diagnosis when less invasive tests are difficult or not possible.

Large intestine
Synonym for colon - the part of the intestine that goes from the cecum to the rectum. Motility dysfunction of the large intestine results in the lower abdominal pain, diarrhea, and/or constipation symptomatic of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Drugs or herbs that artificially induce bowel movements to relieve constipation. All laxatives carry the risk of bowel dependency from over-use.

The largest organ in the body; makes bile, converts food into energy, and removes alcohol and poisons from the blood.

Lotronex (generic name alosetron) is a potent and selective 5-HT3 antagonist prescription drug for diarrhea-predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Lotronex affects the action of serotonin, helping to prevent painful cramps and slowing colon contractions to reduce diarrhea. Lotronex carries the risk of ischemic bowel disease as a serious side effect and its use is restricted by the FDA.

Lower GI (gastrointestinal) series
Also called barium enema x-ray. X-rays of the rectum, colon, and lower part of the small intestine.

Lower esophageal sphincter
Muscle between the esophagus and stomach.


Malabsorption syndrome
Condition when the small intestine cannot absorb nutrients from foods.

Medications for IBS

Enlarged, swollen colon that results from severe constipation.

Menopause and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Movement of food through the digestive tract. Motility is abnormally altered in IBS.

Mucosal lining
Lining of gastrointestinal (GI) tract organs that makes mucus.

Mucous colitis
Synonym for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Clear liquid made by the intestines to coat and protect tissues in the gastrointestinal tract.


Nausea is the sensation of having an urge to vomit. Irritable Bowel Syndrome, as defined by the Rome Criteria, often has nausea as one of its symptoms.

Neurologic innervation
Stimulation of the nerves or nervous system.

A chemical such as serotonin which conveys or inhibits nerve impulses.

Nontropical sprue
See celiac disease.


Blockage in the gastrointestinal tract.

Occult bleeding
Blood in stool that is invisible to the naked eye but can indicate colon cancer.


Pain threshold
Point at which a stimulus causes pain. Hyperalgesia (a lowered pain threshold) is involved in the development of visceral hypersensitivity that characterizes IBS

A glandular organ lying below and behind the stomach. The pancreas secretes hormones that regulate blood sugar, and is also involved in the digestion of protein and fat in the small intestine.

Partial colectomy
Removal of part of the large intestine.

Functional changes associated with or resulting from disease or injury. The brain-gut dysfunction of Irritable Bowel Syndrome is one example of a pathophysiology.

An SSRI antidepressant that stimulates serotonin production and can be helpful for constipation-predomimant IBS, but can exacerbate diarrhea-predominant IBS.

Related to the stomach and the duodenum, where pepsin is present.

The wavelike muscular contractions of the digestive tract by which its contents are forced onward.

Peristaltic reflex
A propulsive wave that propels food through the digestive tract. This reflex is a function of the enteric nervous system, which is dysfunctional in people with IBS.

Peptic ulcer
Sore in the lining of the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum, usually caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. An ulcer in the stomach is a gastric ulcer; an ulcer in the duodenum is a duodenal ulcer.

Area around the anus.

Area between the anus and the genitals.

Lining of the abdominal cavity.

An abnormal growth affecting the GI tract lining (mucosa) which may produce no symptoms or be associated with blood in bowel movements.

Prebiotics are food ingredients, typically complex carbohydrates that are not digested, that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics were were first identified and named by Marcel Roberfroid in 1995. Prebiotics are considered a functional food. In addition to digestive tract health, prebiotics can improve the immune system and reduce the incidence of allergies. The most prevalent forms of prebiotics are nutritionally classed as soluble fiber. Prebiotics will encourage the growth of probiotics in the GI tract.

Pregnancy and Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Probiotics are microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, provide health benefits. Lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria are the most common types of microbes used as probiotic supplements. Probiotics are also naturally present in fermented foods with active live cultures. Probiotics improve intestinal microbial balance, inhibiting pathogens and toxin producing bacteria.

Documented health effects from probiotics include: prevention and relief of Irritable Bowel syndrome symptoms; alleviation of chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases; prevention and treatment of infectious diarrhea; urogenital infections; and allergies. Taking probiotics with prebiotics will help the establishment and growth of the healthy bacteria in the gut.

An SSRI antidepressant that stimulates serotonin production and can be helpful for constipation-predomimant IBS, but can exacerbate diarrhea-predominant IBS.

Opening from the stomach into the top of the small intestine or duodenum.


Quantitative stool fat determination
Test that measures the amount of fat in bowel movements and the percentage of dietary fat that is absorbed. This test is used to evaluate potential fat malabsorption syndromes such as celiac, pancreatitis, and Crohn's disease.

Questions to ask your doctor about Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Questran (generic name cholestyramine) is a prescription drug used to bind bile acids normally stored in the gallbladder. Questran binds the bile acids in the intestines and prevents them from reaching the colon. If you have diarrhea-predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome, but your symptoms began after you had your gallbladder or ileum (the last portion of the small intestine) removed, you likely are suffering from a malabsorption of bile acids secreted by the liver. These acids, which are normally stored in the gallbladder, are instead being dumped directly into the small intestines, causing chronic irritation and diarrhea.

Radiation colitis
Inflammation of the colon from radiation therapy. Symptoms of radiation colitis often respond well to the dietary guidelines for IBS.

Lower end of the large intestine that leads to the anus.

Rome Criteria for IBS Diagnosis
The Rome III Criteria are the current standard for the definition of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Because IBS is not a disease, diagnosis depends in part on determing whether or not your symptoms match those that have been medically established as definitive of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.


A biochemical neurotransmitter, found primarily in the central nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, and blood platelets. Serotonin mediates several important physiological functions including gastrointestinal motility, and is implicated in the pathology of IBS. Multiple receptor families explain the broad physiological actions and distribution of serotonin.

Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber is a subclass of dietary fiber. Food compounds that dissolve or swell when put into water are called soluble fibers. These compounds include pectins, gums, mucilages, and some hemicelluloses. They're found inside and around plant cells. Soluble fiber is a GI tract stabilizer, and a crucial part of successful dietary management of IBS. It is typically one of the successful IBS treatments. Soluble fiber is found in foods and in soluble fiber supplements, and can even be added to recipes.

Small intestine
The small intestine is composed of three sections: duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. All play a role in the absorption of nutrients.

Of, relating to, or affecting the body, especially as distinguished from the mind or the environment.

Spastic Colitis
Synonym for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Spastic Colon
Synonym for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

The spleen stores red blood cells and removes aged red blood cells from circulation, and also helps fight infections in the body. The spleen is a solid organ in the upper left hand side of the abdomen, just beneath the ribcage.

SSRI Antidepressants
SSRI antidepressants (such as the brand names Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft and Paxil) stimulate serotonin production and low doses may be helpful for IBS constipation, though these drugs can trigger severe attacks in diarrhea-predominant patients.

The stomach produces gastric juices which break down food. It's situated between the esophagus and the beginning of the small intestine (duodenum).

Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea and/or constipation, bloating, gas, and nausea.

Referring to a condition that is not permanent, and lasts for a limited period of time.

Treatments for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Compilation of the five major areas of IBS treatments: Diet, Supplements, Alternative Therapies, Stress Management, Medications.

Tricyclic Antidepressants
Tricyclic antidepressants (such as the brand name Elavil) in low doses may reduce diarrhea-predominant IBS symptoms, but patients with constipation are usually not treated with these drugs because of the possibility of exacerbating this symptom. Tricyclic antidepressants tend to be anticholinergic – that is, they block the activity of the nerves responsible for gut motility.

An abnormal tissue mass, that may be either benign (harmless) or malignant (cancerous).


Damage and tissue death caused by a rupture or break in either the skin surface or organ membranes, such as a stomach ulcers.

Ulcerative Colitis
Inflammation of the colon, and an inflammatory bowel disease.


Vagus nerve
The vagus nerve enervates the gut (gastrointestinal tract), heart, and larynx.

Valium (generic name diazepam) is an antianxiety agent in the class of benzodiazepines. Valium is used primarily for short-term relief of mild to moderate anxiety, but it is also prescribed to relieve the muscle spasms of IBS.

A narcotic analgesic (pain-killer) sometimes prescribed for IBS abdominal pain.

Relating to the soft internal abdominal organs, particularly the intestines. Colloquially, "guts".

The act of regurgitation of the stomach contents, often in response to nausea. Vomiting is possible with IBS, but it is not typical.


Wellbutrin (generic name bupropion) is an antidepressant of the aminoketone class. It is sometimes used in low doses for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.


Xanax (generic name alprazolam) is an antianxiety agent in the benzodiazepines class. Used primarily for short-term relief of mild to moderate anxiety and nervous tension. Xanax is also effective in the treatment of activity depression or panic attacks, and can be useful in treating the abdominal muscle spasms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.


Single-cell organism that can cause infection of the skin, mouth, vagina, rectum and other parts of the gastrointestinal system. The terms "yeast" , "fungus" and "monilia" are used interchangeably. Candida is the most common variety of yeast found in humans. Yeast and Candida have NOT been implicated in Irritable Bowel Syndrome.


A class of anti-ulcer medication(s) which work through the inhibition of gastric acid secretion. Examples include cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid), nizatidine (Axid), and ranitidine (Zantac).

Zelnorm (generic name tegaserod) is a prescription medication meant for the short-term treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome in constipation-predominant women. Zelnorm is classified as a 5-HT4-receptor agonist, which means that it imitates the action of serotonin (a neurotransmitter) in your gut. THE FDA HAS WITHDRAWN ZELNORM FROM THE US MARKET.

An SSRI antidepressant that stimulates serotonin production and can be helpful for constipation-predomimant IBS, but can trigger severe IBS attacks in diarrhea-predominant patients.

For in-depth information about managing all IBS Symptoms see the nical studies on Irritable Bowel Syndrome, click here for the First Year: IBS.

The Irritable Bowel Syndrome Glossary is copyrighted by Heather Van Vorous and MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED without permission.
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