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Symptoms and Risk Factors for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) most commonly causes abdominal pain or discomfort, often relieved by or associated with a bowel movement. Individuals with IBS may also have chronic and painful constipation, diarrhea, or both. Other symptoms may include gas, heartburn, discomfort in the upper stomach region, feeling uncomfortably full or nauseated after eating a meal, a white-colored mucus in stool, a swollen or bloated abdomen, and the sensation that a bowel movement is unfinished. Women with IBS often notice a change of symptoms around their menstrual cycles.

Risk Factors for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

About 20% of all Americans have IBS, a syndrome which appears to run in families. IBS usually starts before age 35, but can begin at any age. Nearly three-quarters of patients with IBS are women; more men may suffer from the condition, but it is not known.

While stress does not cause IBS, it may worsen the symptoms. Certain foods may also worsen symptoms, such as milk products, chocolate, alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, sorbitol, cabbage, and broccoli. Conversely, eating foods with fiber may help symptoms, as may eating smaller meals.

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Digestive and Liver Diseases, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia
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(212) 305-1909
Gastroenterology and Hepatology, NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell
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(646) 962-4463
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