Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Sometimes referred to as: IBS

Interview between:

  • Jamila Schwartz, MD

  • Andrew Cunningham, MD

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a recurrent pattern of abdominal pain that’s often associated with abnormal frequency or form of bowel movements. Some people have hard or infrequent stools; some have loose or frequent ones; and some have both. IBS is not a single disease, nor does it have a single cause. Rather, it involves a constellation of influences that contribute to a pattern of digestive imbalance.

Cases Per Year (US)

About 3 million office visits annually.

General Frequency

10-15% of the population worldwide have IBS. In America, the breakdown is ~14% of women, ~9% of men.





What are common IBS symptoms?

Abdominal discomfort or pain is the primary symptom, either chronic or recurrent. The intensity can range from mild to severe and the character of pain can vary. Many sufferers are most bothered by the inconsistent stool patterns (constipation or diarrhea). Other associated symptoms include flatulence, bloating, stomach rumbling, and a feeling of urgency to get to the bathroom.

Are there other associated conditions?

There are some gastrointestinal (GI) conditions that might overlap with or cause irritable bowels, including gut bacteria imbalances (dysbiosis), infections, enzyme deficiencies, or motility issues like gastroparesis. There are also systemic conditions that more frequently co-occur with IBS. Some examples include fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, interstitial cystitis, and chronic pelvic pain.

What symptoms make you worry about something more serious?

Some red flag symptoms include unintentional weight loss, bowel movements that interrupt sleep, black-or-red blood in stool, rectal bleeding, a recent change to looser or more frequent stools in those over 60 years old, or family history of bowel or ovarian cancers. I would also include symptoms beyond the intestines--like rashes or joint pains--as possible indicators of a more pernicious and deeper problem.






Understanding IBS

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Jamila Schwartz, MD and Andrew Cunningham, MD are both members of the Galileo Clinical Team. Connect with one of our physicians about Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or any of the many other conditions we treat.

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