Irritable Bowel Syndrome- IBS Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Time to read 8 min

Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is a disorder that affects the stomach and intestines. It is a GI related condition wherein you may experience cramping, pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhoea, as major symptoms of digestive problems.


It can be a long-term condition for some people, with medication and lifestyle changes being a permanent solution. When it comes to more severe symptoms of IBS, it is also important to be mindful of what foods you may be intolerant of.


Symptoms of IBS


Along with disruptions in the normal bowel movement, is it important to know the major symptoms of IBS. There are also multiple irritable bowel syndrome types, such as IBS C, D, and mixed, in which case the symptoms may differ in some instances.


Abdominal pain


You can experience cramping on the sides and abdominal pain that lasts for several hours. This may lead to discomfort, spasms, and other issues that can rise in pain severity. You can take painkillers for this symptom.


Gas and bloating


Gas and bloating are common signs of digestive issues, which is why they are often ignored. You should check for signs of painful gas and bloating and make the right changes in your diet and lifestyle.




Nausea is another common symptom that you may experience when you have IBS. This can lead to headaches, dizziness, and a general lack of appetite. You can also experience a lack of concentration as a result.




This is a normal symptom experienced when it comes to IBS, which is why it is important to get tested. You can check for more serious conditions when you get a blood and stool test, to rule out infections, chronic conditions, etc.


Blood in stool


There may be blood in the stool present in some cases, which is when it is important to get it checked through blood tests. Your digestive system may be experiencing distress after consuming certain foods or long-term bad diet and lifestyle decisions.

Main causes of IBS 

There may be several reasons why individuals develop IBS symptoms or different irritable bowel syndrome types, as there isn't a direct reason for the condition. You should focus on symptoms relief and getting the right treatment in the form of medication and lifestyle changes.


Food allergy or intolerance


Your body may not have a normal digestive reaction to certain types of foods and cause IBS related symptoms. These can become more severe if the intolerances aren't managed during the early stages of IBS.




In some cases, there may be infection present which can impact the bowel movements and lead to severe symptoms. These can be managed with the right medication, as well as symptom relief treatments.


Abnormalities in gastrointestinal nervous system


There may be abnormalities present in the gastrointestinal nervous system which may lead to spasms, pain, and digestive system issues. Your body may react to certain foods in different ways, causing pain, gas, bloating, etc.


Family history


There are several reasons for irritable bowel syndrome, with family history being one of the major ones. If you have a family history of digestive issues or health problems related to digestive health, then you may at a higher risk for IBS.




When asking what is IBS and what are the IBS causes, we often forget about stress. If you are already prone to digestive health issues, then stress will be a major contributor to symptoms experienced. You can reduce the impact of stress through various strategies.


Medication for IBS


There isn't one specific medication for irritable bowel syndrome treatment, which is why doctors need to evaluate your complete case for specific medicine. Different interventions are required for different people, based on their age, medical history, chronic conditions, etc.


Anti-diarrheal medications


Loperamide or other anti-diarrheal medication may be prescribed by doctors in the case of diarrhoea. This medication may be important in several cases, especially with irritable bowel syndrome types that are prone to diarrhoea.


People with irritable bowel syndrome types D can have bowel issues with diarrhoea, which can lead to a range of secondary issues. You can control the bowel movement through this medication during the earlier stages of digestion.


Anticholinergic medications


If you are experiencing spasms and cramping in the abdominal region, then your doctor may prescribe medication for that. It is also important to drink lots of water to avoid cramping, and to follow a diet that is better for people with IBS.


While the irritable bowel syndrome causes aren't directly known, the physical symptoms can be controlled for. The spasms can be managed with the medication, allowing for a normal bowel movement to flow regularly.


Pain medication


Antibiotics and pain medication may be prescribed in the case of infections or pain caused by IBS D. You may also have to get symptoms related medication that can help with the specific point of pain. These can also be prescribed or taken OTC, depending on your doctor's recommendation.


It is important to check with your doctors about how certain medication can impact your gut microbiome, which is why taking the right medication is vital. You should also check for side-effects from these medications as well.


Fibre supplements


The best long-term solution or IBS treatment is to take fibre supplements. You can improve the natural digestive processes in the body by taking the right fibre supplements, either in oral tablets or powder form.


You should also check for the underlying irritable bowel syndrome causes prior to adjusting your fibre intake. You can choose to continue with natural sources or opt for supplementation based on the symptoms you experience. 


Food & Lifestyle modifications


You should focus on a complete lifestyle change when you are looking to improve IBS symptoms. You can drastically improve your irritable bowel syndrome symptoms by removing bad habits and adopting good habits.


Reduce exposure to allergens


If you are allergic to certain foods then you may experience the common symptoms of IBS or digestive issues. You can focus on eliminating these foods and reducing exposure to them when dining outdoors or ordering meals.


The best approach is to get a complete food allergy test and to start cutting out dairy, gluten, red meats, and other general allergens. While this isn't a direct irritable bowel syndrome treatment, it is a good way to reduce symptoms severity.


Add fibre and probiotics


One of the main reasons why people aren't able to optimize their digestion is the lack of fibre in their diets. You need to add fruits, vegetables, grains, and other natural sources of fibre in the body to improve digestive health.


Probiotics can also help in improving the gut bacteria present in the body. This can improve the overall sense of vitality as well as enhance digestive outflow. It can be a viable irritable bowel syndrome cure if you are able to add them regularly.


Focus on stress management


One of the best ways to reduce the severity of irritable bowel syndrome symptoms is to focus on meditation. You can also improve stress management by focusing on outdoor activities that can replenish natural energies.


You should also avoid being in high-stress zones for extended periods as it can lead to chronic stress which can impact the digestive system. Many irritable bowel syndrome types are affected by stress, which is why mindfulness, yoga, holidays, and other strategies are helpful.


Movement is important


Irritable bowel syndrome IBS isn't directly associated with lack of movement, but walking and other activities can significantly improve circulation. These activities can enhance oxygenation, blood flow to the digestive system, and improve overall vitality.


You can also target the IBS disease symptom of cramping and abdominal pain by walking and stretching. IBS treatment centres also emphasize on movement as an important way to improve mood as well.




What is the best treatment for IBS?


While there are several treatment options for IBS, there isn't one specific one prescribed to every individual. Antibiotics, laxatives, complete dietary changes, and other methods can be used to treat the condition.


The IBS disease is also dependant on certain environmental factors, such as high stress or high toxicity environments. The IBS symptoms can get triggered in these scenarios, which is why being aware of the cognitive factors behind irritable bowel syndrome are important.


How to tell if you have IBS or celiac disease?


There are specific tests designed to check for celiac disease, in which case IBS would not show signs. Inflammation and antibody testing are the major ways through which celiac disease can be tested for. Doctors may look for signs of tTG-IgA and total serum IgA when they want to rule out celiac disease. In severe cases, and especially to rule out colon cancer or other serious diseases, you should get a complete check-up done.


Can caffeine cause IBS symptoms?


In some cases caffeine may cause IBS symptoms, especially if you are not used to consuming caffeine daily. You can experiment with caffeine-free substitutes to check whether your symptoms flare up.


Can antibiotics cause IBS symptoms?


Some antibiotics can impact the gut lining and the overall functioning of the digestive system based on its dosage and duration. They can make symptoms worse in some cases of inflammatory bowel disease or impact the digestive tract output.


How to fix irritable bowel syndrome?


The most important part of the process is to diagnose IBS in patients. You want to rule out all other possibilities through blood tests and imaging tests. Your bowel habits and other symptoms can be checked under the overview irritable bowel syndrome category. This can help doctors prescribe the right medication, as IBS symptoms vary from person to person.


Can acid reflux cause irritable bowel syndrome?


Acid reflux may be one of the symptoms experienced as a result of gastrointestinal tract issues, bowel symptoms, etc. You should check whether there are certain foods that you are consuming that may be causing reflux or other IBS symptoms.


What foods are good for irritable bowel syndrome?


You can follow a low FODMAP diet which includes natural fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein sources. You should also shift your mindset towards healthier habits so that you're enhancing your digestive system long-term.

* Medical Disclaimer - The following information is for educational purposes only. No information provided on this website, including text, graphic, and images, are intended as substitutes for professional medical advice. Please consult with your doctor about specific medical advice pertaining to your condition(s).

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