Understanding and Living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition that affects the large intestine. It can cause a range of symptoms, all characterized by abdominal pain and changes in stool. It can be a mild inconvenience, but it can also become a serious problem. Pain is a major factor in four out of five people, and it increases as the severity of the symptoms increases.

In this article, you'll learn more about the symptoms and treatment options for IBS, the causes of the syndrome, and the ten worst foods that can trigger the syndrome. It also discusses the differences between symptoms in men and women and what triggers IBS.

Whether you are looking for information on how to manage your symptoms or simply want to gain a better understanding of this condition, this article will provide you with valuable insights that can help you live a more comfortable life.

Irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome, also known as irritable bowel syndrome, spastic colon, spastic colitis or mucous colitis, is a chronic disorder of the digestive system. It affects the colon and causes symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, constipation, bloating and flatulence.

Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

The first set of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms is as follows:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Bloating and flatulence

Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by the following symptoms: Abdominal pain, as well as:

  • Relief after defecation
  • Change in the appearance of the feces
  • Change in the frequency of bowel movements

These symptoms must occur for at least six months and once a week for a diagnosis of IBS to be made. In addition, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Mucus in the stool
  • Feeling of incomplete evacuation
  • Urgency during bowel movements

Patients with IBS may also develop symptoms in other parts of the body, including:

  • Headaches
  • Problems sleeping
  • Problems peeing
  • Pain in the pelvis, jaw and back

So if you are wondering if IBS can cause back pain, the answer is yes. The exact cause of IBS back pain is not known, but it is common in IBS patients. In addition, there are health problems associated with back pain in IBS patients. One such condition is interstitial cystitis - a chronic condition that causes bladder pressure and pain. IBS is also associated with rheumatoid arthritis, which can cause back pain.

About 40-60% of patients with IBS also suffer from psychological problems, such as:

  • Migraine headaches
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Chronic abdominal pain
  • Chronic muscle and bone pain

Symptoms of IBS in Females

Irritable bowel syndrome is more common in women than in men. It is known that IBS aggravates the symptoms that women suffer from due to menstrual cramps, such as premenstrual stress syndrome.
In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, the following symptoms also occur in IBS in women:

  • Frequent urination
  • Excessive urination at night
  • Painful urination
  • Urinating with urgency
  • Pelvic organ prolapse (the muscles that hold the pelvic organs become loose)
  • Pain below the belly button
  • Painful sex
  • Other types of sexual dysfunction
  • Lack of sexual desire
  • Heavier and more painful periods
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety like depression and stress

If you are a woman over 50 years old, have stress, and have a family history of IBS, you have a higher risk of developing IBS.

IBS symptoms in women can lead to weight gain - but this is not a symptom in its own right. Weight gain may be due to easily digested but high calorie diets or psychological discomfort. However, they may also lose weight if they are on a restrictive diet or if they have a fear of food.

In men, IBS presents with the same symptoms as described above.

What is an IBS attack?

IBS is a lifelong problem, but its symptoms are not uniform and far from predictable. Sometimes it is possible to live a reasonably normal life. In other cases, symptoms may flare up for a variety of reasons, leading to an IBS attack. The symptoms of IBS are described below:


  • Abdominal pain
  • Excessive gas leakage
  • Bloating
  • Feeling of a non-empty bowel despite having a bowel movement
  • Constipation

Symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in women may also include the menstrual problems mentioned earlier, which are aggravated. 

There is no fixed time when irritable bowel syndrome erupts. Some people get attacks of IBS at night. This may be because they have eaten a heavy meal in the evening, which causes bloating and cramping. If the symptoms become unmanageable, it is recommended to see a doctor immediately.

For others, IBS symptoms may worsen in the morning. The body's internal clock regulates the movements and contractions of muscles, helping to move food debris out of the body. According to a study titled 'Disruption of Circadian Rhythms and Gut Motility,' these contractions slow down at night but increase in the morning, triggering IBS.

In fact, a disturbed circadian clock can also exacerbate the symptoms of IBS.

Some common causes of an IBS attack are as follows:

  • The consumption of certain foods
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Caffeine consumption

People experience episodes in waves - some suffer from constant IBS pain for months. However, you may be doing everything right and still find yourself in the middle of an IBS flare-up.

Types of IBS

There are four forms of IBS, although the fourth form is very rare, so we will limit ourselves to the following three:

IBS constipation or IBS-C: Along with abdominal pain, constipation occurs
IBS-Diarrhea or IBS-D: diarrhea occurs along with the abdominal pain
IBS-Mixed: Along with abdominal pain, there may be loose stools and constipation

Diagnosis of IBS

The doctor usually performs a physical exam and takes the patient's medical history. They may also order tests such as a blood test, a stool test for IBS, or imaging studies to rule out other possible causes of symptoms.

In addition, they may use diagnostic criteria such as the Rom- IV system to make the diagnosis of IBS. It is important to know that IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion, which means that other conditions must be ruled out before the diagnosis can be made.

The Rome- IV system considers the following factors to confirm the diagnosis:

  • Abdominal pain for 6 months, at least once a week
  • Pain associated with bowel movements
  • Bristol Stool Form Scale
  • In IBS-C patients, more than 25% of stools are type 1 or 2.
  • In IBS-D, more than 25% of stools should be type 6 or 7.
  • In mixed IBS, more than 25% of stools should resemble type 1 or 2 and 25% should resemble type 6 or 7.

This is what the Bristol Stool Form Scale looks like:





Type 1

Separate hard lumps, like nuts (hard to pass)


Type 2

Sausage-shaped but lumpy


Type 3

Like a sausage but with cracks on the surface


Type 4

Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft


Type 5

Soft blobs with clear-cut edges (passed easily)


Type 6

Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool


Type 7

Watery, no solid pieces (entirely liquid)

Could be diarrhea, but it could also mean infection or food poisoning, or other problems

Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome

There is no permanent treatment for IBS, but some medical options will ensure that you can live as symptom-free as possible. You can manage some symptoms with the following measures:
  • Avoiding foods that trigger IBS, such as bloating foods, gluten and FODMAP carbohydrates
  • Exercise regularly
  • Staying stress free
  • Getting enough sleep

To help manage your IBS symptoms, some of the following over-the-counter IBS medications may be prescribed:

  • Fiber supplements such as psyllium (Metamucil) with liquid - to control constipation
  • Over-the-counter laxatives such as polyethylene glycol (Miralax), which help with constipation
  • Anti-diarrheal medications: OTC medications such as Imodium A-D to control diarrhea and Prevalite to cause bloating (harden the stool somewhat)
  • Anticholinergic medications: Medications such as Bentyl to relieve intestinal spasms
  • Tricyclic antidepressants: medications such as Norpramin and Pamelor to relieve depression
  • SSRI antidepressants: medicines such as Prozac and Paxil that help with depression
  • Pain medications: Medications such as Neurontin and Lyrica to relieve pain and bloating

IBS drugs only

  • Linzess increases fluid secretion in the small intestine to facilitate bowel movements. However, it may also cause diarrhea, so it is recommended to take the medication 30-60 minutes before eating.
  • Lotronex relaxes the colon and slows down the transport of waste. It is prescribed only to IBS-D patients who are on a special program. It has side effects and is considered when other options are not working.
  • Amitiza may increase fluid secretion in the small intestine to facilitate bowel movements. It is approved for the treatment of IBS symptoms in women, but they should be constipated. It is recommended only when other IBS treatment options are not effective.
  • Viberzi relaxes muscle contractions and fluid secretion to help regulate diarrhea. It has side effects such as nausea, pain, constipation, and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).
  • Xifaxan to reduce the growth of intestinal bacteria to control diarrhea
IBS diet

In about two-thirds of patients, food and diet are responsible for IBS symptoms. You should make a note of what foods affect you at what time of day. Sometimes you may get an attack of IBS at night but not in the morning. That being said, there are some general recommendations - foods you should avoid if you have IBS and foods you should eat if you have IBS.

Some general dietary recommendations are as follows:

  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water
  • Eat until you feel full, no more
  • Eat slowly

Irritable bowel syndrome - foods to avoid
Foods that trigger IBS can make an IBS attack worse or trigger it. Here are the ten worst foods for IBS:

  • Insoluble fiber, such as whole grains, some vegetables and fruits
  • Fried foods
  • Dairy products
  • Gluten, which is found in foods such as rye, barley and wheat
  • Beans and legumes
  • Drinks containing caffeine
  • Processed foods
  • Sugar and sugar-free sweeteners
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
IBS foods for breakfast

To help relieve symptoms, look for high-fiber foods, such as:

  • A bowl of cinnamon without sugar
  • Bagels
  • Toast
  • Bran muffins
  • High fiber cereals
  • High-fiber fruits like apples, pears, bananas and raspberries

The best vegetables for IBS include green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, celery, eggplant, spinach and zucchini.


IBS is a chronic disorder of the digestive system that can cause a range of symptoms including abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, gas, and bloating. The condition is more common in women and can worsen during menstruation.

IBS can cause lower back pain and digestive problems in addition to the usual symptoms of abdominal pain, constipation, bloating and diarrhea. While there is no cure for IBS in women, it can be managed through dietary changes, medication and stress management.

If symptoms become uncontrollable, it is important to consult a doctor for further help.

There is a free IBS quiz and a free IBS test on the Internet. However, keep in mind that there is no specific test for IBS. Therefore, it is recommended that you see a doctor.

Frequently asked questions

What foods should you eat if you have IBS diarrhea?

Foods you should eat when you have IBS diarrhea include oats, peas, apples, citrus fruits, beans, carrots, and barley.

What is an IBS test kit?

Some online tests claim to be able to diagnose IBS with a simple blood test. Some websites allow you to have your symptoms assessed by a doctor, take the test, and receive the results by email. These tests also schedule a phone consultation with the doctor to discuss the test results.

Do I have Crohn's disease or irritable bowel syndrome?

Both Crohn's disease and IBS can have similar symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation and diarrhea. However, they are two different diseases. Crohn's disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. It usually affects the small intestine. Irritable bowel syndrome, on the other hand, is caused by problems with the contraction and relaxation of the intestinal muscles.

An accurate diagnosis can only be made by a doctor after a physical exam and additional tests such as blood tests, stool analysis and imaging studies. If you have persistent or severe symptoms, you should see a doctor to determine the cause and appropriate treatment for IBS.

Are bananas good for IBS?

Yes, banana is a high-fiber fruit with low sugar content, making it a good choice for IBS.

How do I get rid of IBS lower back pain?

To get rid of the lower back pain caused by IBS, you can try therapies such as acupuncture, meditation, and hypnotherapy to relax the muscles and relieve the pain.

Is IBS curable or dangerous?

IBS is not curable - there is no 100% effective treatment for IBS. But it is not dangerous either; most people can manage the condition well with precautions and live a normal life. 


https://www.tampacolorectal.com/blog/tips-for-managing-nighttime-ibs-flare-ups#:~:text=Most%20people%20tend%20to%20eat,at%20night%20 for%20this%20 reason.



Duboc H, Coffin B, Siproudhis L. Disruption of Circadian Rhythms and Gut Motility: An Overview of Underlying Mechanisms and Associated Pathologies. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2020 May/Jun;54(5):405-414. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000001333. PMID: 32134798; PMCID: PMC7147411.


















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