Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) refers to a group of symptoms that occur together. The causes of IBS are not well defined, but researchers believe that it is caused by a combination of physical and mental health problems. For example, problems with signals that are sent to the gut from the brain may contribute to the development of IBS. The most common symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain or discomfort and changes in bowel habits like diarrhea or constipation. Symptoms often occur after eating.
To diagnose IBS, a healthcare provider will take a complete medical history focusing on symptoms, family history, recent infections, medications and stressful life events, and he or she will perform a physical exam. Further testing is not usually needed.
IBS does not have a cure, but its symptoms can be relieved through a combination of changes in diet, medications, probiotics and therapy for mental health problems.