9 Signs and Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)


IBS can cause a wide range of symptoms, including digestive issues, changes in bowel movements, fatigue, and anxiety. Identifying triggers and making changes to your diet and lifestyle may be beneficial.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects between 6%–18% of people worldwide (1Trusted Source).

This condition involves changes in frequency or form of bowel movements and lower abdominal pain (1Trusted Source).

Diet, stress, poor sleep, and changes in gut bacteria may all trigger symptoms.

However, triggers are different for each person, making it difficult to name specific foods or stressors that everyone with the disorder should avoid (2Trusted Source).

This article will discuss the most common symptoms of IBS and what to do if you suspect you have it.

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Michela Ravasio/Stocksy 


1. Pain and cramping
Abdominal pain is the most common symptom and a key factor in diagnosis.

Normally, your gut and brain work together to control digestion. This happens via hormones, nerves, and signals released by the beneficial bacteria that live in your gut.

In IBS, these cooperative signals become distorted, leading to uncoordinated and painful tension in the muscles of the digestive tract (3Trusted Source).

This pain usually occurs in the lower abdomen or the entire abdomen but is less likely to be in the upper abdomen alone. Pain typically decreases following a bowel movement (4).

Diet modifications, such as a diet low in FODMAPs, may improve pain and other symptoms (5Trusted Source).

Other treatments include bowel relaxants like peppermint oil, cognitive behavior therapy, and hypnotherapy (6).

For pain that doesn’t respond to these changes, a gastroenterologist can help you find a medication specifically proven to ease IBS pain.


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