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10 Common Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), also known as spastic colon, is an intestinal disorder. Among symptoms, abnormal colon contractions cause abdominal pain.

An IBS diagnosis is usually made based on symptoms, some of which people can control by managing their diet, lifestyle, and stress level. Other patients require medication and counseling.

Symptom 1: Cramps/Pain

Do you have abdominal pain and cramps that are relieved by having a bowel movement?

You will feel cramps, especially in the area around your belly button, where your digestive organs are located. This severe belly pain and discomfort can be recurrent.


Symptom 2: Change in Bowel Movements

Are you having bowel movement more or less often than usual? Do your stools look different than they used to? Are you having diarrhea or constipation?

For diarrhea, try eating low-fat, high-carbohydrate foods, including pasta, rice, breads, cereals, fruits, and vegetables. For constipation, foods high in fiber are best.

Symptom 3: Excessive Gas

Um, excuse me, but did you just fart or blow wind? Are you extremely gassy? Excessive gas is a symptom of IBS.

According to WebMD, “They (IBS patients) don't seem to make more gas than anyone else, but it seems to bother them more. Studies have found people with IBS have trouble getting rid of gas, possibly because of problems with how the nerves and muscles in their gut work.”


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Symptom 4: Swollen Stomach

Does your stomach feel bloated or swollen? Uncomfortable and unflattering bloating is another symptom if IBS.

Bloating usually occurs after eating a meal and lasts 2-4 days. Exercising regularly and eating small meals (not skipping meals) can help manage bloating.

Symptom 5: Indigestion

Because IBS interacts with your colon and large intestine, a deficiency or failure in digestive enzymes can trigger indigestion.

IBS and indigestion can cause flatulence, bloating, and abdominal pain or discomfort. Indigestion can wake up at night, be persistent, and not go away overnight.


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Symptom 6: Nausea

You may experience nausea due to other symptoms related to IBS, including bloating and abdominal pain. Avoiding specific foods and reducing stress can help you manage nausea.

Typically, the nausea does not result in vomiting. If it does and occurs for longer than two days, seek medical help.


Symptom 7: Anxiety

IBS is a chronic and ongoing condition, and it can make patients suffer from anxiety.

According to WebMD, “…people with IBS may be more sensitive to emotional troubles. Stress and anxiety may make the mind more aware of spasms in the colon. IBS may be triggered by the immune system, which is affected by stress.”

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Symptom 8: Loss of Appetite

Do you not feel like eating? Have you lost weight? Not surprising because of the nausea, abdominal pain, and other IBS symptoms.

According to a Patient.info posting, one patient stated: “Basically my IBS only started a few months ago. And it started with my appetite disappearing completely and a LOT of mucus, both when passing the stool and on its own. Then the diarrhea, cramps, bad wind and everything else started.”


Symptom 9: Urgency to Poop

Do you have an urgent feeling that you need to poop? But after you do, do you still feel like you need to poop more? Is there mucus in your stool? Is the stool soft?

These are all signs of IBS.

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Symptom 10: Depression

Depression can go along with the anxiety that some IBS patients experience. Depression and anxiety can make other IBS symptoms worse.

According to WebMD, “Some people are so worried that their diarrhea, constipation, or other symptoms will flare up that they avoid going to work, school, or out with friends.”

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