Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the more common illnesses that leads to a referral to a Gastroenterologist.

We are in the early innings of understanding the disease, and hence, limited treatment options.

The motility of the intestines is complex governed by the close interaction of nerves, muscles and small hormones in the gut wall that lead to coordinated movement of the intestinal contents along the digestive tract.

In patients, the mechanisms are deranged causing diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, and mucoid stools amongst other symptoms. Vomiting or intestinal bleeding are not manifestations of IBS and are red flags for possible other illnesses.

IBS is seen in 5-10% of the population and usually starts in the second or third decade. The illness has periods of symptoms with quiescent intervals. IBS does not progress to cancer or bowel obstruction and usually gets better with the passage of years.

Diet does not appear to have a direct role, but certain foods can aggravate the illness (see MOD sheet). Symptomatic treatment is recommended using antispasmodics and using some of the newer medications that can assist with bloating and constipation.