Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (or IBS) can be very puzzling; they're not there all the time, they come and go, and they're often never the same.

After you've read the article try to answer these questions:

  • What symptoms do you experience?
  • Do you suffer predominantly from diarrhea or constipation, or a combination of both?
  • Do you suffer any of the conditions mentioned in the note?
  • Is IBS a functional or structural disorder?
  • Has your doctor excluded any of the other conditions that could cause similar symptoms?

Here is a list of symptoms that people with irritable bowel syndrome may experience:

  • Abdominal pain or distension, often relieve by a bowel movement
  • Anal soreness or irritation
  • Altered bowel function with constipation and/or diarrhea (often alternating) 
  • A feeling of incomplete evacuation
  • Cramping
  • Anorexia
  • Bloating
  • Flatulence 
  • Incontinence or leakage
  • Intolerance to certain foods
  • Mucus in the stools
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting
  • Varying degrees of anxiety or depression 
  • Panic attacks
  • Headaches
  • Erratic heartbeat 
  • Lethargy
  • Backache 
  • Painful periods

Please Note:

Anemia, weight loss, rectal bleeding and fever are NOT symptoms of IBS.

Bowel changes accompanied by these symptoms need to be checked out by a physician to discover the cause.


What Causes the Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome


symptoms of ibs include cramps and spasms

An individual with IBS may experience just a few of these symptoms, or all of them.

For people who suffer symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, pain is often triggered by eating and may be relieved by a bowel movement.

A major characteristic is fluctuating transit time. When food travels too quickly through the digestive system, it's obvious that it cannot be fully digested. The undigested particles then irritate the gut, causing it to empty suddenly.

Fierce episodes of diarrhea can be followed by a period of intense impasse when in response to excessive bowel activity everything literally comes to a standstill and solidifies - that is, until the next episode of manic movements.

Because of the pain, diarrhea, nausea and sometimes severe headaches and even vomiting, a person with IBS symptoms may dread eating.

Even if an individual with IBS eats normally, malnutrition may result because nutrients often are not absorbed properly. As a result people with IBS require as much as 30% more protein than normal, as well as an increased intake of minerals and trace elements, which can quickly be depleted by diarrhoea.

Although most sufferers have either diarrhea-predominant IBS or constipation-predominant IBS, some people alternate between diarrhea and constipation.

No matter what type of IBS you have, the underlying problem is that the rhythm of intestinal muscle contractions (called peristalsis)  periodically gets messed up.

Read more on the Causes of IBS




IBS Diagnosis

There is no test for messed-up intestinal contractions, however, and the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are common to many other diseases, so arriving at a diagnosis of IBS is lengthy and full of guesswork.

The diagnosis of IBS is usually made in the absence of other physical evidence of gut disease.

In fact the condition is thought to be a functional one rather than a structural or biochemical change in the bowel, because it doesn't cause permanent damage, it doesn't progress to serious illness, and it can usually be controlled with diet and lifestyle changes.

So it's necessary for the doctor to rule out other disorders that can cause similar symptoms, such as Chron's disease, depression, diverticulitis, endometriosis, fecal impaction, food poisoning, infectious diarrhea, ischemic or ulcerative colitis and lactose intolerance.

If there are no other problems, it's IBS by default.

The next few pages will discuss which healing foods are suitable to prevent flare-ups and which ones are more likely to cause them. Select one from the list below for your next reading.

Now that you've read the article try to answer these questions:

  • What symptoms do you experience?
  • Do you suffer predominantly from diarrhea or constipation, or a combination of both?
  • Do you suffer any of the conditions mentioned in the note?
  • Is IBS a functional or structural disorder?
  • Has your doctor excluded any of the other conditions that could cause similar symptoms?
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Recommended reading:

The IBS Miracle
How to Free Your Life from Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Read more about The IBS Miracle

Treat IBS naturally, safely and permanently by giving your body what it needs. READ MORE


Products That Help Relieve the Pain of IBS



Buy Bowel Essence from Nutriglow

Bowel Essence
A combination of herbs designed to calm the symptoms of IBS.

Buy Peppermint Complex from Nutriglow

Peppermint Complex

Peppermint Complex combines plant oils to help maintain the health and tranquillity of the digestive system including peppermint, ginger, fennel, chamomile and cardamom.

IBS Related Pages:


Causes of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

IBS Trigger Foods - Foods to Avoid If You Suffer with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Diet For IBS

Elimination Diet for IBS and Other Food Sensitivities

IBS with Diarrhea - The Elimination Diet

IBS With Constipation - The Elimination Diet

IBS Foods - Healing Foods to Regulate Your Colon

Foods for IBS with Diarrhea




External source of information on IBS that I found very useful:

International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders


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Products that can relieve the pain of IBS:




Fibre Supplement with Digestive Enzymes




Buy Beano form Amazon
Beano Home & Away Combo Pack Food Enzyme Dietary Supplement - 120 Tablets & 12 Tablet Portable Pack



Buy Bowel Essence from Nutriglow

Bowel Essence
A combination of herbs designed to calm the symptoms of IBS.


Buy Peppermint Complex from Nutriglow

Peppermint Complex

Peppermint Complex combines plant oils to help maintain the health and tranquillity of the digestive system including peppermint, ginger, fennel, chamomile and cardamom.



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