What are the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable bowel syndrome can have a lot of different symptoms, and these typically vary from person to person. These can include constipation, abdominal pain that usually gets better after defecating (going #2), diarrhea, a feeling of urgency (needing to rush to the bathroom) after eating, bloating and gas; other symptoms that may also occur include clear/white mucousy stool, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, sexual dysfunction, and urinary frequency/urgency can be present at times as well.

If you have irritable bowel syndrome, you may experience a variety of signs and symptoms. These may include abdominal pain that gets better with defecation or bowel movement, a change in the number of times you pass a stool, the form and appearance of stool, how you pass a stool (strained, easily, etc.), the passage of mucus, abdominal bloating, and distension.

This answer provided for NATA by the University of Montana Athletic Training Education Program.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common bowel disorder that disrupts the normal function of the digestive tract. The severity and symptoms of IBS vary from person to person, but below are some of the most typical symptoms:

  • Constipation, diarrhea, or both
  • Abdominal pain or cramps
  • Gas and/or abdominal bloating
  • Mucus in the stool
  • Feeling of not having finished a bowel movement

The cause of IBS is not known, but symptoms may be triggered or worsened by stress, certain foods, medication, exercise, or hormonal changes (many women report increased symptoms during their menstrual periods).

There is no known cure for IBS, but you can minimize attacks by identifying and avoiding your personal triggers.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.