Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a condition that causes mild to severe cramping, abdominal pain and changes in bowel movements. This is not the same thing as inflammatory bowel disease, (IBD) which causes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
There are many possible causes of IBS, including problems with the muscles in the intestines or an intestinal infection. Stress can cause IBS to worsen, and the condition can develop at any time during a person’s life. It often begins in early adolescence or adulthood and is more common in women.
People with IBS may switch between constipation and diarrhea, or mostly have one or the other. For some people, the symptoms may get worse for a few weeks or a month, and then decrease for a while. For other people, symptoms are present most of the time and may even slowly increase.