Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) | Overview


What is irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic (ongoing) problem with the large intestine. IBS is not a disease. It is a term used to describe a group of symptoms that typically happen together.  Common IBS symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea or constipation, or a combination of both diarrhea and constipation. IBS may cause physical discomfort and emotional distress, but it does not cause damage to the large intestine. It's not the same as inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis, which do damage the intestine.

IBS is very common and occurs more often in women. IBS also has been called functional bowel syndrome, irritable colon, spastic bowel, and spastic colon.


This content has been supported by Forest Laboratories Inc.


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Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 08/12
Created: 12/96