Irritable Bowel Syndrome: How to Manage IBS Symptoms

By Marisa Cohen
Reviewed by Daniel Lew, M.D.
August 18, 2022

An estimated 11% of people live with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder that’s characterized by chronic abdominal pain and bloating associated with diarrhea or constipation—or both. For people with other chronic health conditions, including psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and others, the rate of IBS may be even higher.

The exact cause of irritable bowel syndrome is still unknown, but possible culprits include changes in the microbiome of the gut, the aftereffects of a stomach bug, anxiety or other mental health issues, or changes in the levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that helps regulate mood. Unlike the similarly named inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which can cause many of the same symptoms as IBS, irritable bowel syndrome is not caused by inflammation in the GI tract.

7 Ways to Manage IBS

If you’re living with the painful and sometimes embarrassing symptoms of IBS, finding relief is likely at the top of your to-do list. You can help manage IBS symptoms with these strategies.