Frequently Asked Questions


How common is IBS?

IBS is affects males and females, adults and children alike and is the most common gastro intestinal disorder people experience.

Is IBS a serious illness?

The impact of IBS varies with each person. For some people, IBS causes symptoms that are manageable and/or mild and do not interfere with daily activities. For others, IBS may severely reduce their quality of life or be disabling.

IBS is a long-lasting, or chronic, condition. Symptom episodes are often unpredictable. For many, treatments are minimally effective.

Is IBS a risk factor for other serious diseases?

There are no long-term organic complications associated with IBS. Once an adequate evaluation is made to diagnose IBS, people with the disorder have no greater need of preventive checkups than other people.

Can the menstrual cycle affect IBS symptoms?

Bowel function appears to be influenced by changes in the level of female hormones. Symptoms can become worse at certain times of the cycle, particularly at the time of menstrual periods.

Women both with and without IBS report a higher prevalence of GI symptoms, such as pain and bloating, just prior and at the time of menstrual periods. These symptoms are reported as more intense in women with IBS.

What causes bloating and gas?

Bloating is a common symptom in IBS. It is usually described by people as a feeling of fullness or heaviness in the belly. It may be associated with visible abdominal distension in which the belly appears swollen.

Bloating may be due to any of several factors. This may be due to increased intake of gas-forming foods, slowed transit and evacuation of gas through the bowel, and increased sensitivity to food, gas, and other bowel contents. 

Not everyone with IBS actually produces more gas than those who do not have IBS. People with IBS may also have an increased relaxation of the abdominal wall muscles even without an increase in intestinal gas. This is an unconscious muscle relaxation response in response to the pain of IBS.

However, people with IBS do appear to be more sensitive to the effects of normal amounts of gas. They also seem to have difficulties passing the gas that is present.

Do certain foods affect IBS symptoms?

This varies from person to person. Certain foods stimulate the GI tract in general, and in those with IBS eating too much of these might worsen symptoms. Your doctor or a registered dietitian can help you identify foods that are a problem for you.

Also, at times altered muscle and nerve function in IBS can cause the bowel to over-respond so that even the normal digestive process may bring on symptoms.

Does lactose intolerance cause IBS?

Lactose (milk sugar) intolerance can cause similar symptoms to IBS. Lactose intolerance and IBS can occur at the same time in a person, but they are separate conditions which are treated differently. 

Can bacteria affect IBS symptoms?

There are trillions of bacteria throughout the GI tract. Some help maintain normal functioning of the intestine. Others can cause infection or inflammation.

When the normal balance in the intestine between beneficial and harmful bacteria is changed, it may lead to changes in the function of the GI tract and chronic GI symptoms.

What are the symptoms of IBS?

Find out more on symptoms of IBS here

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