Information for the public

What is irritable bowel syndrome?

What is irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (often called 'IBS') is a disorder that interferes with the normal functioning of the large bowel. The most common symptoms include pain or discomfort in the abdomen, bloating, an urgent need to empty the bowel, and changes in bowel habit (diarrhoea or constipation, or both).

Irritable bowel syndrome will often come and go throughout a person's life and can be a painful and upsetting condition. Its exact cause is unknown. Irritable bowel syndrome affects between 10% and 20% of the general population, but most often occurs in young people in their twenties. It is twice as common in women as in men.

Questions to ask about irritable bowel syndrome

  • Please tell me more about irritable bowel syndrome.

  • Are there any support organisations in my area for people with irritable bowel syndrome?

  • Can you provide any information for my family or carers?