What is irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic condition of the digestive system. This condition causes abdominal pain and altered bowel habits.1 The main complaints are either frequent, watery bowel movements (diarrhea) or not frequent enough bowel movements (constipation). In some patients these symptoms may switch between diarrhea and constipation.1 IBS is the most commonly diagnosed gastrointestinal condition2 and is second only to the common cold as a cause of absence from work3. An estimated 10 to 20 percent1 of people in the general population experience symptoms of IBS5, although only about 15 percent of affected people actually seek medical help.4

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