Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an incurable condition that affects about three million people in the United States per year. This condition involves the recurrence of abdominal pain and diarrhea or constipation. Irritable bowel syndrome is associated with stress, depression, anxiety or previous intestinal infection. This condition has gone by other names, such as spastic colon or spastic bowel syndrome. Irritable bowel syndrome is what is known as a functional disorder. What this means is that the digestive system in a person with irritable bowel syndrome looks normal, but it does not work like it should.

Irritable bowel syndrome has three different types, and each one has different symptoms. There are some overarching symptoms that also can describe irritable bowel syndrome. About one in every five Americans have signs of irritable bowel syndrome. However, less than one in five actually go to the doctor. It is important to see your doctor for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome so it does not take over your life. You should also see a doctor if you have any of the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome because it can be an indication to a much more serious problem. Recognizing these symptoms will help alert you to a possible problem.

The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome will vary from person to person, and they can often be like symptoms that are common with other diseases. Some of the most common symptoms that come along with irritable bowel syndrome are: abdominal pain, cramping, gas, mucus in the stool, a bloated feeling, and diarrhea or constipation. These last two symptoms can be on their own or they can sometimes alternate between the two. These symptoms will alert a person that there may be a problem with irritable bowel syndrome. There are other specific symptoms in conjunction with these that are specific to the types of IBS.

The first type of irritable bowel syndrome is called IBS with constipation. The symptoms that are common in this type of IBS are: lumpy, hard stool, stomach pain and discomfort, bloating, and delayed or infrequent bowel movements that are very unusual to a person’s normal bowel movement schedule.

The second type of irritable bowel syndrome is called IBS with diarrhea. This type also comes with stomach pain and discomfort like IBS with constipation, but the other symptoms of this type of IBS are what set it apart. The other symptoms include: an urgent need to move your bowels, frequent bowel movements that are unusual to a regular schedule of bowel movements, and very loose or watery stool.

The last type of irritable bowel syndrome is called IBS with alternating constipation and diarrhea. This means that you will have both symptoms of IBS with constipation or IBS with diarrhea depending on which one you are experiencing. It is thought that there are an equal number of people with each type of IBS. Most people who have IBS will alternate between the types over time. It is all unique to the person with the condition.

It is important to go to the doctor is you have any of the symptoms that are related to IBS. Many people will take medicines on their own for their symptoms. If you go back and forth for medications for constipation and diarrhea, it can actually make the problem worse. Doctors can make a treatment regime for an individual with alternating symptoms since it can be so difficult to treat.

Recognizing the symptoms of all the types of IBS will ensure that you get the right treatment for it. There is no known cure for IBS, but with the right medications and advice, it is treatable. Having irritable bowel syndrome can be a little embarrassing and you may not want to discuss it. Talking to a doctor will help you feel better and lessen the severity of the symptoms. It will also help make certain that the symptoms are not an indication of a much more serious problem.