Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms that occur together, including repeated pain in your abdomen and changes in your bowel movements, which may be diarrhea, constipation, or both. With IBS, you have these symptoms without any visible signs of damage or disease in your digestive tract.
IBS is a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder. Functional GI disorders, which doctors now call disorders of gut-brain interactions, are related to problems with how your brain and your gut work together. These problems can cause your gut to be more sensitive and change how the muscles in your bowel contract. If your gut is more sensitive, you may feel more abdominal pain and bloating. Changes in how the muscles in your bowel contract lead to diarrhea, constipation, or both.
How common is IBS?
Studies suggest that about 12 percent of people in the United States have IBS.
Who is more likely to develop IBS?
Women are up to two times more likely than men to develop IBS.1 People younger than age 50 are more likely to develop IBS than people older than age 50.2
Factors that can increase your chance of having IBS include:
- having a family member with IBS
- a history of stressful or difficult life events, such as abuse, in childhood
- having a severe infection in your digestive tract
*Women are two times more likely than men to develop IBS.
What other health problems do people with IBS have?
People with IBS often have other health problems, including1
- Certain conditions that involve chronic pain, such as fibromyalgia , chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic pelvic pain
- Certain digestive diseases, such as dyspepsia and gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Certain mental disorders, such as anxiety , depression , and somatic symptom disorder
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