Recognising the signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

An attack of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can happen at any time. It may seem to have no rhyme or reason. Symptoms may even change from time to time. But IBS does follow patterns recognizable by a doctor. It may help to keep a symptom diary so your doctor can see how your symptoms change over time and in relation to diet, stress, and other factors.

What are the signs and symptoms? 

  • Pain or discomfort is the key - Abdominal pain is the key symptom of IBS and is often relieved with the passing of a bowel movement (defecation). There are many causes for abdominal pain, but in IBS, the pain or discomfort is connected with a change in bowel habits.
  • Symptoms won’t stop - Everyone suffers from bowel changes now and then. However, for those with IBS the symptoms are more severe, or occur more often. They can be constant or keep coming back.
  • Symptoms change - Some or all of IBS symptoms can occur at the same time. Some symptoms may be worse than others. Symptoms can vary and sometimes seem contradictory. Diarrhea may alternate with constipation.

In women, gut function appears to be influenced by changes in the level of female hormones. IBS symptoms can become worse at certain times of the menstrual cycle. Healthy women and women with IBS report more GI symptoms, such as pain and bloating, just prior and at the time of menses. But it is reported as more intense in women with IBS.

Pain in IBS

The key symptom of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is abdominal pain or discomfort. The IBS pain or discomfort can be felt anywhere in the abdomen. It may change over time. The abdomen is the area between the hips and the chest. It is not actually stomach pain. People differently describe how pain feels in IBS, such as: 

  • Cramping or cramp-like
  • Stabbing
  • Sharp
  • A ‘migraine’ in the stomach

IBS pain or discomfort is related to the way the bowels move.

  • There may be less pain or discomfort after having a bowel movement
  • The pain or discomfort may begin when the frequency of bowel movements change to more often or less often
  • Or the pain/discomfort by begin when stools change and become harder or softer

For many people with IBS, abdominal pain is frequent. For some it is continuous. People have described the pain relating to IBS using words like: excruciating, unbearable, constant, intense, or awful.


Symptoms are recognizable

The typical features of IBS are generally recognizable by a doctor. Usually the physician will examine the abdomen of a patient with IBS and it will be normal or have only tenderness. The most important first step is to confidently recognize the diagnosis of IBS and remove the suspicion of other diseases.

Irritable bowel syndrome affects men and women of all ages. It also occurs in children.

On the plus side there is always a solution to how IBS can be treated. You need to consult a qualified practitioner who believes in treating the cause of IBS, Dr Alain Sanua. From Hashimoto’s disease to leaky guts syndrome, Dr Alain Sanua will be able to help you overcome your illness. Qualified in the practice of naturopathy and homeopathy, the treatment that you get from Dr Alain Sanua will be natural and holistic. To find out more about the various treatments on offer through Dr Alain Sanua, visit his website


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