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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS or spastic colon) is a functional bowel disorder characterizedby chronic abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, and alterationof bowel habits in the absence of any detectable organic cause. In some cases,the symptoms are relieved by movements. Diarrhea or constipationmay predominate, or they may alternate (classified as IBS-D, IBS-Cor IBS-A, respectively). IBS may begin after an infection(post-infectious, IBS-PI), a stressfullife event, or onset of maturity without any other medical indicators.

Although there is no cure for IBS, there are treatments which attempt torelieve symptoms, including dietary adjustments, medicationand psychologicalinterventions. Patient education and a good doctor-patient relationship are alsoimportant.

Several conditions may present as IBS including celiacdisease, mild infections, parasitic infections like giardiasis,several inflammatory bowel diseases, functional chronic constipation, and chronic functional abdominal pain.In IBS, routine clinical tests yield no abnormalities, though the bowels may bemore sensitive to certain stimuli, such as balloon insufflation testing. Theexact cause of IBS is unknown. The most common theory is that IBS is a disorderof the interaction between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract, although there mayalso be abnormalities in the gut flora or the immunesystem.

IBS does not lead to more serious conditions in most patients. But it is asource of chronic pain, fatigue, and other symptoms, and it increases apatient's medical costs and contributes to work absenteeism. Researchers havereported that the high prevalence of IBS, in conjunction with increased costsproduces a disease with a high societal cost. It is also regarded as a chronicillness and can dramatically affect the quality of a sufferer's life.


The primary symptoms of IBS are abdominalpain or discomfort in association with frequent diarrhea or constipation, achange in bowel habits. There may also be urgency for bowel movements, afeeling of incomplete evacuation (tenesmus),bloating or abdominal distention. People with IBS more commonly than othershave Gastroesophageal reflux, symptoms relatingto the genitourinary system, psychiatric symptomssuch as depression and anxiety, fibromyalgia,chronic fatigue syndrome, headache and backache.

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