The symptoms of IBS are usually worse after eating and tend to come and go in bouts.
Most people have a flare-up of symptoms that lasts two to four days. After this time, the symptoms usually improve but do not disappear completely.
The most common symptoms of IBS are:
- abdominal pain and cramping – often relieved by emptying your bowels
- a change in your bowel habits – such as diarrhoea, constipation, or sometimes both
- bloating and swelling of your abdomen
- excessive wind (flatulence)
- an urgent need to go to the toilet
- a feeling that you need to open your bowels even if you have just been to the toilet
- a feeling you have not fully emptied your bowels
- passing mucus from your bottom
Due to the embarrassment, pain and discomfort of IBS, many people with the condition also have feelings of depression and anxiety.
There are three main patterns of bowel symptoms in IBS. They are:
- IBS with diarrhea – when you have repeated bouts of diarrhea
- IBS with constipation – when you have repeated bouts of constipation
- IBS mixed – when you have repeated bouts of diarrhoea and constipation
These patterns are changeable and it is common to go for long periods with few or no symptoms at all.
Other symptoms that we will call “Red flag symptoms” indicate you have another serious condition these require further tests with your GP.
- Unexplained weight loss
- A swelling or lump in your abdomen or bottom
- Bleeding from your bottom
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