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NHS Choices Condition

Content supplied by NHS Choices

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic (long-term) disorder that affects the digestive system. It causes abdominal pain, diarrhoea and constipation.

There are different types of IBS, depending on your main symptom. It's known by a variety of other names, including spastic colon, spastic colitis, mucous colitis, nervous diarrhoea, nervous colon and nervous or functional bowel. However, some of these names misrepresent the condition. Colitis, for example, is an inflammation of the colon and this symptom isn't found in people with IBS.

The symptoms of IBS can fluctuate. There may be times when your symptoms are particularly troublesome and times when you experience no symptoms at all.

Although IBS poses no serious threat to health, it can have an adverse effect on a person's quality of life. The exact causes of IBS are unknown. 

How common is IBS? 

IBS is one of the most common gastrointestinal conditions. It is estimated that 10-20% of the UK's population is affected by IBS at any one time, although this figure may be higher because many people with the condition do not report their symptoms to their GP.

IBS is twice as common in women as it is in men. The condition normally develops in people who are between 20 and 30 years of age, but it can affect people of any age.

While there is no cure for IBS, the symptoms can be controlled with lifestyle changes and medicine.

view information about Irritable Bowel Syndrome on www.nhs.co.uk »

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