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Signs and Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

An irritable bowel, or sometimes referred to as a “cranky bowel”, is one of the most common conditions of a problematic digestive tract. It is estimated that about one in five adult Americans has an irritable bowel, although only about half of them seek treatment. If you suffer from irritable bowel symptoms, you’re probably at your wit’s end, since it is often difficult or impossible for most doctors to treat.

The difference between irritable bowel symptoms and an inflammatory bowel disease is that the latter is much more serious. An irritable bowel doesn’t threaten your life… only your lifestyle, and usually only temporarily, whenever symptoms become distressing. An inflammatory bowel disease, on the other hand, can become extremely serious if left untreated, even life threatening, and it may increase the risk of cancer by as much as twenty times.  We have put together a list of common IBS symptoms below.

The Most Common Signs and Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

• Abdominal pain or distention

• Painful bowel movements

• Alternating constipation or diarrhea

• Mucous or undigested food in the stool

• Anxiety or depression

• Sleep disturbances

• Nausea and vomiting

• Food intolerances

• Weight loss or anorexia

It is often difficult to tell the difference between common IBS symptoms and symptoms of more serious conditions known as inflammatory bowel diseases.  If you have the above symptoms plus extreme weight loss, significant rectal bleeding, and abdominal pain that lasts more than an hour at a time, you may have either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diagnosis

It is important to consult with a doctor to see if you have IBS or some other more serious medical condition.  Tests often used to assist in a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome include a barium enema, a colonoscopy, a stool test for bleeding or infection of the intestinal tract, and a sigmoidoscopy, which allows th edoctor to view the lining of the lower bowel for inflammation and abnormalities.

Books For People With Signs and Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS):

IBS For Dummies
Carolyn Dean
A New IBS Solution
Mark A. Pimentel

The First Year: IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)–An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed
Heather Van Vorous
IBS–Free at Last!: A Revolutionary, New Step-by-Step Method for Those Who Have Tried Everything. Control IBS Symptoms by Limiting FODMAPS Carbohydrates in Your Diet.
Patsy Catsos MS. RD.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Resources

General Patient Resources

  • Irritable Bowel Sydrome Self Help and Support Group

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) causes, symptoms, support and treatment for … in this group involves members sharing their knowledge in the group’s forums.

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome News

Help, advice and the latest news for IBS sufferers.

  • About . com

Updated articles and resources. An overview of the many facets of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), including symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and diet.

  • Help For IBS . com

Extensive collection of links and resources for IBS

  • MD Junction

Discussions, Q&A and friends dealing with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Medical Resources

  • Mayo Clinic

Comprehensive overview covers symptoms, treatment of this chronic bowel disorder.

  • Medline Plus

A service of the US National Library of Medicine.

  • Web MD

From symptoms to treatment options, find information to help cope with irritable bowel syndrome.