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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is the most common gastrointestinal disorder affecting between 10-15 percent of individuals worldwide. In western countries, rates of IBS are higher in women than men.

The symptoms of IBS can vary from person to person and may include abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and excess gas, which are all signs of potential digestive imbalance. There is no widely accepted diagnostic test for it at this time, which means that diagnosing IBS relies on symptoms that a patient might report to the doctor. Even though IBS is incredibly common, unfortunately many people suffer in silence. It can take years in some cases to reach a diagnosis because frequently many tests will be performed to rule out other conditions which can be both costly and emotional.

The standardized diagnostic criteria are set by the Rome Foundation in what is referred to as the Rome IV criteria, defined as:

  • Recurrent abdominal pain on average at least 1 day a week, in the last 3 months, with two or more of the following:
    • Pain related to moving bowels
    • Pain associated with a change in how often you move your bowels
    • Pain associated with a change in the consistency of what you pass, when you move your bowels
  • Symptoms must have started at least 6 months ago

While the exact causes of IBS are not well understood, scientists suggest that changes within the digestive tract may be part of the story. More information about IBS can be found through the American College of Gastroenterology and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Watch this short video on IBS symptoms and the Low FODMAP diet

Symptoms