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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms—including pain or discomfort in your abdomen and changes in your bowel movement patterns—that occur together.

Doctors often classify IBS into one of four types based on your usual stool consistency. These types are important because they affect the types of treatment that are most likely to improve your symptoms.

The four types of IBS are

  • IBS with constipation, or IBS-C
    • Hard or lumpy stools at least 25 percent of the time
    • Loose or watery stools less than 25 percent of the time
  • IBS with diarrhea, or IBS-D
    • Loose or watery stools at least 25 percent of the time
    • Hard or lumpy stools less than 25 percent of the time
  • Mixed IBS, or IBS-M
    • Hard or lumpy stools at least 25 percent of the time
    • Loose or watery stools at least 25 percent of the time
  • Unsubtyped IBS, or IBS-U
    • Hard or lumpy stools less than 25 percent of the time
    • Loose or watery stools less than 25 percent of the time

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

People with IBS may have diarrhea, constipation or both. Some people with IBS have only diarrhea or only constipation. Some people have symptoms of both or have diarrhea sometimes and constipation other times. People often have symptoms soon after eating a meal. Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • The feeling that you haven’t finished a bowel movement
  • Whitish mucus in your stool
  • Your pain or discomfort improves after a bowel movement.
  • You notice a change in how often you have a bowel movement.
  • You notice a change in the way your stools look.
  • You’ve had symptoms at least three times a month for the past 3 months.
  • Your symptoms first started at least 6 months ago.

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