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Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms

Not only does stress play an important role in the onset of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), but your gender makes you more susceptible to this troubling ailment as well. Women are far more likely to be diagnosed with IBS. In fact, statistics show 60% of all IBS patients are women. Additionally, the condition seems more prevalent in individuals following a low-fiber diet or using laxatives on a regular basis.

Illnesses Presenting IBS Symptoms

Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms are rather diverse and closely linked to many other ailments. Having one or more of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you’re suffering from IBS. A number of diseases and conditions producing the same symptoms include:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Bowel blockages
  • Colon Cancer
  • Diverticulitis
  • Food allergies
  • Gallstones
  • Gluten intolerance (Celiac Disease)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Parasites

Due to the similar symptoms, it’s essential to rule out other diseases or ailments. If you have any of these symptoms, you should visit a qualified doctor to be certain.

Abdominal Distention

One of the many Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms is abdominal distention. With abdominal distention, gas pressure creates bloating and a sense of expansion within the abdomen. The abdomen may be visually distended, causing your pants to fit tightly due to bloating resembling the first few months of pregnancy. The abdominal distention usually disappears overnight or during lengthy gaps between meals.

Abdominal Pain

A sore or tender abdomen can present another of the more common Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms. Usually, abdominal pain is experienced for a few hours after eating and then disappears or lessens until the next meal. The pain can also be reduced after a bowel movement.

Changes in Appetite

Often, another of the symptoms is a reduction in appetite. This can develop because the mind associates eating with pain or because nausea prevents a person from having a healthy appetite.


Many patients diagnosed with IBS deal with recurrent bouts of constipation. The constipation adds to the pain and pressure within the abdomen. It is also common for constipation to be followed by periods of painful diarrhea.


Exactly why depression is one of the Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms is unknown, but a high percentage of people with IBS find themselves in a depressed state. This may linked to the pain and lack of sleep that IBS causes. Close to 1/3 of all IBS patients show signs of depression.


Diarrhea in those diagnosed with IBS is often severe and painful. The diarrhea can occur several times a day and come with little to no warning. It’s also common for someone with IBS to alternate between diarrhea and constipation.


People diagnosed with IBS often complain about feeling tired throughout the day. Understandably, this can cause a person to lose sleep, especially if the abdominal pain or gas pressure occurs throughout the night, and persistent fatigue may result.


Gas builds up in the intestines causing sharp pains or dull aches that seem to be alleviated only by releasing the air. Often though, passing gas only reduces the pain for a little while until the next gas bubble expands.


In some people with IBS, heartburn is felt in the center of the chest, especially after meals. Heartburn is one of the Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms caused by stomach acids surging up the esophagus.

Mood Swings

Many people with IBS find themselves dealing with periods of irritability and moments of sadness. The mood swings are often sudden and seem quite severe.


A feeling of queasiness is one of the most common Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms. The queasiness may take the form of pain and nausea leading to vomiting or it may be mild enough to just suppress one’s appetite. Vomiting alone is not a sign of IBS; most vomiting occurs from the combination of pain and nausea.

Additional Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms

A small percentage of sufferers also present other Irritable Bowel Syndrome symptoms. Some people, especially women, experience persistent headaches. Sexual dysfunction is extremely common as well. Along with the abdominal pressure also comes a need to urinate more frequently.

It is important to see your doctor to be certain your symptoms are in fact stemming from IBS. Most physicians look for certain signs strongly indicating IBS:

  • The abdomen feels or becomes visually bloated
  • Abdominal discomfort has occurred at least three days per month for the past three months
  • Mucus is visible in the stool
  • Pain and bloating go away after a bowel movement
  • Pain occurred along with a change in stool appearance
  • Pain occurred with a change in frequency of bowel movements (more than three per day or less than three per week)

In many cases, a doctor may order imaging or x-rays of the intestines and colon to make sure no cancerous growths are causing blockages. Your doctor may also check your blood chemistry, take a stool sample, check liver function, and look for ovarian cancer in women. Once a clear diagnosis has been made, you can begin seeking treatment or you may try specialized health supplements to help relieve painful IBS symptoms.

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