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NHS Choices Condition

Content supplied by NHS Choices

The most common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are:

  • abdominal pain and cramping which is often relieved by emptying your bowel,
  • a change in your bowel habits, such as diarrhoea, constipation or, sometimes, both,
  • bloating and swelling of your abdomen,
  • excessive wind,
  • experiencing an urgent need to go to the toilet, which can result in incontinence if a toilet is not nearby,
  • a feeling that you have not fully emptied your bowel, and
  • the passing of mucus from your rectum (back passage).


The symptoms of IBS are usually worse after eating. Most people will experience a 'flare-up' of symptoms, lasting between 2-4 days, after which the symptoms improve, or disappear altogether.

For reasons that are not completely understood, IBS can also cause symptoms in other parts of your body, as well as in your bowel. These symptoms include:

  • lower back pain,
  • muscle and joint pain,
  • constant tiredness,
  • nausea,
  • headache,
  • burping,
  • bad breath, and
  • a frequent and urgent need to urinate.


Due to the pain, discomfort and embarrassment that are sometimes associated with IBS, some people also experience feelings of anxiety and depression.

view information about Irritable Bowel Syndrome on www.nhs.co.uk »

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