Symptoms of IBS

The symptoms of IBS are usually worse after eating and tend to come and go in bouts.

Most people have a flare-up of symptoms that lasts two to four days. After this time, the symptoms usually improve but do not disappear completely.

The most common symptoms of IBS are:

  • abdominal pain and cramping  often relieved by emptying your bowels
  • a change in your bowel habits  such as diarrhoeaconstipation, or sometimes both
  • bloating and swelling of your abdomen
  • excessive wind (flatulence)
  • an urgent need to go to the toilet
  • a feeling that you need to open your bowels even if you have just been to the toilet
  • a feeling you have not fully emptied your bowels
  • passing mucus from your bottom 

Due to the embarrassment, pain and discomfort of IBS, many people with the condition also have feelings of depression and anxiety.

Bowel symptoms

There are three main patterns of bowel symptoms in IBS. They are:

  • IBS with diarrhoea  when you have repeated bouts of diarrhoea
  • IBS with constipation  when you have repeated bouts of constipation
  • IBS mixed  when you have repeated bouts of diarrhoea and constipation

These patterns are not set in stone. You can switch from one to another and go for long periods with few or no symptoms at all.

Find out about the foods and drinks that can trigger the symptoms of IBS.

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