IBS: Five facts you need to know

Yella Hewings-Martin PhD | November 29, 2017

With over a tenth of the worldwide population living with irritable bowel syndrome and many more going undiagnosed, it's time to shine the spotlight on this condition, which causes abdominal discomfort, pain, or both for so many. We have your need-to-know facts.

Find out what the latest research says about IBS.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a widespread gastrointestinal disorder that affects around 12 percent of the population of the United States. For those affected, it can be a major burden.

The main symptoms of IBS include, among other things, abdominal pain, cramping, excess gas, bloating, and a change in bowel habits.

Common triggers are hormonal changes, eating, and stress, but IBS affects everyone differently. To some people IBS can be debilitating, while others have only mild or moderate symptoms.

At present, nobody knows what causes IBS. As a result, diagnosis can be challenging, and treatment options are far from satisfactory.

Although there are certain things that are known to increase the risk of developing IBS — such as being a woman, having a family member with IBS, and being under the age of 45 — research is only slowly beginning to lift the fog surrounding IBS.