Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), is a common long-term condition that can affect the large intestine. While there is no cure, only a few people with IBS experience severely uncomfortable symptoms and many can control these symptoms by making some simple lifestyle changes to their diet and managing stress.

Although symptoms of IBS may not always be persistent, there are some common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome to know more about, these include:

  • Increased gas
  • Constipation
  • Changes in bowel movements (appearance and frequency)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea

See also: What Causes a Change in Bowel Movements?

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What causes irritable bowel syndrome?

At present, the definitive cause of IBS is unknown. Although there are a few possible factors that potentially play a role [1], these include:

  • Abnormalities in the nerves of the digestive tract
  • A person has experienced gastroenteritis - a severe form of diarrhea
  • Excess bacteria in the intestines
  • Exposure to stressful events
  • Family history of IBS

Can you suddenly develop irritable bowel syndrome?

Like many other medical conditions, IBS can develop at any point in a persons life. In fact, it’s estimated that around 50% of those with IBS report experiencing symptoms at around the age of 35 [2]. With that said, it commonly occurs in people during their teenage years until around 40 years of age.

According to Mayo Clinic, IBS can sometimes develop after a person experiences gasteoneteritis, or it may also develop after a person has gone through a stressful event in their life.

What does an IBS attack feel like?

While IBS symptoms differ from person to person, it is common for people with IBS to go through days where they experience little to no symptoms, and days where their symptoms become worse - this is referred to as a flare up.

Flare up’s can sometimes be triggered by a certain food or drink and will typically result in:

  • Stomach pain and/or cramps
  • Uncomfortably bloated and/or swollen stomach
  • Feeling that you cannot empty your bowels fully (constipation)
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Flatulence

What is the best treatment for irritable bowel syndrome?

For those experiencing severe or consistent symptoms, treatment for IBS may involve specific medications. Some of these medications may help control constipation while others can ease and control diarrhea.

According to Mayo Clinic, common medications used to treat some IBS patients include:

  • Fibre supplements
  • Anticholinergic medications
  • Anti-diarrheal medications
  • Laxatives

As previously mentioned, not everyones IBS experience is the same so some people living with the condition may not need medication to help ease symptoms. Mild symptoms are commonly treated by making simple lifestyle changes, these include:

  • Keep note of the things you eat and what may trigger symptoms - avoid these foods
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Make time to relax
  • Stay active

What foods should you avoid with IBS?

It’s important to remember that not everybodies expreience with irritable bowel syndrome is the same, and there is no surefire list of foods that those with IBS should avoid. Having said that, if you have been diagnosed with IBS, your doctor may suggest you follow some of the following steps [3]:

  • Avoid fizzy drinks such as soda that might trigger bloating or gas
  • Avoid products that contain gluten (wheat, barley, rye)
  • Avoid delaying or skipping meals
  • Avoid consuming too much caffeine

CRP levels are typically tested when diagnosing IBS in order to rule out any other potential inflammatory disorders. This test can be done with your doctor or from home with an at-home lab test.

LetsGetChecked’s at-home CRP Test can identify inflammation in the body which may indicate increased risk of degenerative disorders. Online results will be available within 2-5 days and our dedicated medical team will be available to help you throughout the process in any way they can.

You should consider taking the CRP test if:

  • You are at risk for chronic inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or vasculitis
  • You are at risk for Crohn's disease
  • You are at risk for bowel disorders
  • You are overweight
  • You require a risk assessment for cardiovascular diseases
  • You require a risk assessment for cancers

See also: What is C-Reactive Protein?

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  1. Mayo Clinic. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Online:
  2. American College of Gastroenterology. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Online:
  3. NHS. Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diet. Online: