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Clinical Manifestations

Patients with irritable bowel syndrome can present with a wide variety of symptoms which include chronic abdominal pain, altered bowel habits, diarrhea, constipation, and extraintestinal complaints such as impaired sexual function, dysmenorrhea, dyspareunia, increased urinary frequency and urgency, and fibromyalgia symptoms5. The abdominal pain in IBS is usually described as crampy with variable intensity1. Exacerbating factors are emotional stress and eating.6 Patients typically describe a pain relief after defecation. The diarrhea in IBS is characterized as frequent loose stools with a small volume, typically during daytime and most often in the morning and after meals1. Many patients with IBS also complain of mucus discharge with stools. In some patients these symptoms may occur after an acute bacterial or viral gastroenteritis. It is then called post-infectious IBS7. Other IBS patients may also complain of constipation and hard stool. Common symptoms from the upper gastrointestinal tract in IBS patients are gastroesophageal reflux, dysphagia, early satiety, flatulence, belching, and nausea1.
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