Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a disorder of bowel function. Patients who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome have abdominal pain or discomfort accompanied by changes in bowel habits such as constipation or diarrhea (or both).
Additional symptoms of IBS include abdominal bloating, loss of appetite, and general malaise.
IBS is an extremely common disorder. Studies have estimated the prevalence in the United States to be somewhere between 15% and 20% of the entire population. IBS is more common in women with almost twice as many women having the disorder compared to men. Only about 25% of those with IBS seek medical attention for their gastrointestinal symptoms.
Contrary to popular belief, IBS is not a psychosomatic disorder. Stress and anxiety do not cause IBS. Instead, research suggests that IBS is caused by changes in the nerves and muscles that control sensation and motility of the bowel. Over the last 20 years, a number of scientific studies have demonstrated that people with IBS tend to have higher levels of sensitivity in the intestines compared to individuals who do not have IBS. Another cause of IBS has been linked to a neurochemical imbalance. Researchers believe that serotonin, a neurotransmitter found in the gut, plays a key role in GI sensation and motility and may be integral in the development of the symptoms of IBS.
Do You Suffer from IBS?
Take the IBS Quiz from the ACG
Do you have recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort?
Do you often feel bloated?
Are you frequently constipated?
Do you have frequent diarrhea?
Have you talked to your doctor?
If you have one or all of these symptoms, you may have a real and treatable medical condition called irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). While not life threatening, this disorder can have significant negative impact on your life. You should talk to your doctor or a gastrointestinal specialist to evaluate your symptoms. For more information on IBS, visit the ACG website at http://www.acg.gi.org
About the American College of Gastroenterology
Founded in 1932, the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) is an organization with an international membership of more than 10,000 individuals from 80 countries. The College is committed to serving the clinically oriented digestive disease specialist through its emphasis on scholarly practice, teaching and research. The mission of the College is to serve the evolving needs of physicians in the delivery of high quality, scientifically sound, humanistic, ethical, and cost-effective health care to gastroenterology patients.