Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic, non-inflammatory condition that is classified as a syndrome - that means it consists of a group of symptoms.

Overview and Symptoms

IBS is a problem that affects the large intestine. It can cause abdominal cramping, bloating, and a change in bowel habits. Some people with the disorder have constipation. Some have diarrhea. Others go back and forth between the two. Unlike IBD, which can damage the intestines, IBS does not damage the intestinal tract.

IBS is common. It affects about twice as many women as men and is most often found in people younger than 45 years. No one knows the exact cause of IBS. There is no specific test for it.


IBS treatments depend on symptom severity. Most people diagnosed with IBS can control their symptoms with education, diet, stress management, probiotics, and medicine.

If symptoms are severe, additional treatments include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Drug therapy for treatment of pain and bowel symptoms
  • Use of a low-dose antidepressant, which acts on pain and other symptoms
  • Referral to a pain treatment center

Learn More

The Digestive Disease Center offers multidisciplinary specialty care that includes physicians, surgeons and nurses as well as experts in nutrition. 

Digestive Disease Center