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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the name for a group of gastrointestinal symptoms — such as abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea — that can appear together but have no clear cause.

While doctors don’t yet know exactly what causes IBS, many think it may stem from a combination of physical and psychological problems, such as stress, depression and problems with the signals the brain sends to the gut.

Recent studies have also suggested that changes in the bacteria of the gut, or even microscopic inflammation, may contribute to IBS.

IBS: what you should know

  • IBS does not have a cure, but it does not cause any lasting damage or serious disease.
  • Women are twice as likely as men to have IBS, which usually appears in people younger than 35.
  • Between 5 and 7 percent of Americans have been diagnosed with IBS. Studies estimate that 10 to 15 percent of people actually have it.
  • There are four types of IBS:
    1. IBS with constipation
    2. IBS with diarrhea
    3. Mixed IBS (with constipation and diarrhea)
    4. Unsubtyped IBS (with neither constipation nor diarrhea)

How can I get help for IBS?

These are the most common IBS symptoms:

Having these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have IBS. Many other conditions have similar symptoms.

Experts at Rush can draw on their decades of experience to find the root of your problem.

Care for IBS at Rush

IBS has no cure, but if you have it you can take steps to calm your symptoms.

At Rush, your care might involve one or more of the following:

  • Help with making changes to your diet
  • Psychological counseling or help with relieving your stress
  • Medications to help regulate your bowel movements and improve your abdominal pain

Why choose Rush for IBS care

  • Rush is a leader in IBS research. Recently, researchers at Rush helped develop a synthetic fiber that might help relieve IBS symptoms.
  • Rush has a special program for people with pelvic pain and other abdominal issues. The program has a coordinator who can help you find the multiple specialists you might need to see to find relief.

Departments and programs that treat this condition

There are many misconceptions about irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS. Here's what you need to know.