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Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms

We all have stomach aches and trouble going to the toilet once in a while, but for people with IBS, the chronic pain and discomfort can be disabling.

Along with abdominal cramping and discomfort, IBS symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Wind
  • Constipation, the stool comes out either lumpy or hard
  • Diarrhoea, the stool comes out loose or watery
  • Alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhoea
  • Bowel movements that feel uncontrollably urgent, difficult to pass, or incomplete
  • Clear or white mucus with the stool.

To determine whether your digestive problems are truly IBS, doctors need to see two out of the following three features:

  • A bowel movement relieves the ache and suffering
  • There's a change in how often the stool comes out
  • The stool looks different.

The standard diagnostic guideline for IBS, calls for the symptoms to be present for at least six months. It's difficult for people to remember the exact number of weeks they had symptoms in the preceding year. See a doctor whenever you have recurrent symptoms. Doctors can determine whether your symptoms are IBS or signs of another problem. IBS is often confused with other illnesses, so doctors will need to ask questions, and perform tests to confirm a diagnosis.

Blood in the stool, a high temperature, weight loss, and continuing pain are NOT symptoms of IBS. If you have these symptoms, seek medical advice right away.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on May 18, 2012

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