Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) occurs in up to 20% of people. Ongoing sensitivity in the large intestine can cause symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation. IBS does NOT cause blood in stools, or diarrhea that wakes someone up at night.  Sometimes IBS symptoms can be severe and interfere with a person’s ability to live their life.  Symptoms can be triggered by infection of stomach or intestines, overgrowth of bacteria in intestines, stress, hormones (such as around menstrual periods or menopause), or food allergies.  Controlling these symptoms involves a healthy lifestyle:  Exercise, control stress, sleep consistently, eat a varied, healthy diet (paying close attention to anything that may make IBS symptoms worse), and drink plenty of water.  Prescription and over the counter medications may be helpful. For severe IBS symptoms, a medical evaluation may be needed to ensure there are no other causes (diabetes, thyroid disorders, anemia, etc.) of large intestine sensitivity.  While it may cause physical and emotional distress, IBS does NOT cause damage to the bowel.  IBS does NOT lead to cancer.  IBS does not cause blood in the stools, abdominal pain at night, abdominal pain that gets worse over time, or weight loss.  If you have any of those symptoms, you need to see your healthcare provider. 

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