Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition of the digestive system including the colon. Irritable bowel syndrome is the most commonly diagnosed GI condition.

Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

While there is no certain cause of IBS, there are a number of theories about the origin of this condition. These include: abnormal contractions of the colon and intestines; prior severe gastrointestinal infection (e.g. Campylobacter infection); bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine; anxiety and stress; food intolerances; and heightened sensitivity of the intestines. It is likely that one or more of these factors is causative in most patients with IBS.

Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

The main symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain and altered bowel habits such as constipation and/or diarrhea. Other symptoms of IBS include abdominal gurgling (‘borborygmi’), bloating, gas and a mucous discharge from the rectum.

Diagnosing Irritable Bowel Syndrome

There is no single diagnostic test for IBS. The diagnosis of IBS is made by recognizing the symptoms and excluding other plausible diagnoses such as inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis), celiac disease, dietary intolerances and possibly other diagnoses. In order to rule out other medical conditions, your physician will first review your medical history, conduct a physical examination and administer routine blood tests. A colonoscopy may be recommended, especially in people over 40 years of age.

Complications from Irritable Bowel Syndrome

It is important for patients with IBS to visit their healthcare provider regularly to monitor symptoms and receive further testing if needed. Most people with IBS are able to successfully control their symptoms and do not develop serious long-term health conditions.

Learn More About Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) »

The board-certified physicians at San Francisco Gastroenterology are specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders affecting the digestive tract, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Our doctors serve patients from Marin County, Oakland, Berkeley, Palo Alto and the entire San Francisco Bay Area. Our goal is simply to provide the highest quality medical care and patient service possible.

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