What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects the large intestine. It is characterized by a group of symptoms that typically occur together, including abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel habits. IBS is a chronic condition that requires long-term management.


The symptoms of IBS can vary widely from person to person, but the most common include:

  • Abdominal Pain and Cramping: Often relieved by a bowel movement.
  • Bloating and Gas: A feeling of fullness or swelling in the abdomen.
  • Diarrhea or Constipation: Some people experience diarrhea, others constipation, and some alternate between the two.
  • Changes in Bowel Movements: Including changes in the frequency and consistency of stools.
  • Mucus in Stool: Presence of white mucus in the stool.

Types of IBS

IBS is typically categorized into four types based on the predominant bowel habit:

  1. IBS with Constipation (IBS-C): Hard or lumpy stools at least 25% of the time and loose or watery stools less than 25% of the time.
  2. IBS with Diarrhea (IBS-D): Loose or watery stools at least 25% of the time and hard or lumpy stools less than 25% of the time.
  3. Mixed IBS (IBS-M): Both hard and lumpy and loose and watery stools at least 25% of the time.
  4. Unsubtyped IBS (IBS-U): Symptoms do not consistently align with IBS-C, IBS-D, or IBS-M.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of IBS is unknown, but several factors may contribute to its development:

  • Gut-Brain Axis: The connection between the gut and the brain can affect bowel function.
  • Intestinal Muscle Contractions: Stronger or prolonged contractions in the intestines can cause pain, bloating, and diarrhea.
  • Nervous System: Abnormalities in the nerves in the digestive system may cause discomfort.
  • Inflammation: Some people with IBS have increased numbers of immune-system cells in their intestines.
  • Severe Infection: IBS can develop after a severe bout of diarrhea (gastroenteritis) caused by bacteria or a virus.
  • Changes in Gut Microbiome: Alterations in the gut bacteria, such as changes in the types and numbers of bacteria, may play a role in IBS.


Diagnosing IBS involves ruling out other conditions. A healthcare provider may use the following methods:

  • Medical History and Physical Exam: Detailed history of symptoms and a physical examination.
  • Rome IV Criteria: Diagnostic criteria for IBS based on symptoms.
  • Stool Tests: To check for infections, digestive issues, or blood in the stool.
  • Blood Tests: To rule out other conditions, such as celiac disease.
  • Colonoscopy: In some cases, to examine the colon and rule out more serious conditions.

Treatment and Management

There is no cure for IBS, but symptoms can often be managed through:

  • Dietary Changes: Identifying and avoiding trigger foods, following a low-FODMAP diet, and eating high-fiber foods.
  • Medications: Depending on symptoms, medications may include fiber supplements, laxatives, antidiarrheal medications, antispasmodics, or antidepressants.
  • Stress Management: Techniques such as mindfulness, yoga, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help reduce stress and alleviate symptoms.
  • Probiotics: These may help improve symptoms for some people by balancing gut bacteria.

Living with IBS

Managing IBS often involves making lifestyle adjustments:

  • Regular Exercise: Physical activity can help regulate bowel movements and reduce stress.
  • Adequate Hydration: Drinking plenty of water is important, especially for those with IBS-C.
  • Routine: Keeping a regular eating and sleep schedule can help maintain digestive health.
  • Support: Joining a support group or seeking counseling can be beneficial for mental health.


IBS is a complex, multifaceted disorder that affects many aspects of a person’s life. While it can be challenging to manage, understanding the condition and working with healthcare providers to develop a personalized treatment plan can help control symptoms and improve quality of life.

 Need more advice or treatment? Many health care experts at Antarnaad are always here to help you out. Antarnaad is a growing network of experienced physiotherapists, dietitians, nutritionists, fitness trainers and Yoga experts providing treatment for all the conditions. For more information visit our website www.antarnaad.net or call our Consultant: Mb: 9899700187.