It is a condition also known as 'sensitive gut' or 'spastic colon' or 'nervous colon'. In the US, it affects 20% of people. In Singapore, it affects about 10% of people. IBS tends to affect more women than men. IBS tends to occur most frequently in the 30s and 40s.
No one knows the exact cause of IBS, but it has been associated with altered bowel motility (a gut that moves faster, or slower, or even tends to spasm), visceral hypersensitivity (people with IBS tend to be more aware of their gut contractions and movement), psychological factors (stress tends to trigger IBS symptoms and dealing with prolonged IBS symptoms can be stressful), neurotransmitter imbalance, and infection or inflammation of the gut (about 30% of patients report IBS symptoms after a bout of gastroenteritis).
Common symptoms of IBS include:
There is no specific test to diagnose IBS. It is mainly a clinical diagnosis after exclusion of certain 'red flag' indicators. There are certain diagnostic criteria that will help your doctor make a diagnosis.
There is no 'magic pill' to cure IBS but there are certain things you can do to make yourself feel better.
The first thing would be to have a better understanding of this problem, then learn what you can do to help yourself. There are certain food triggers that can bring about the symptoms, so be aware of the food you consume. Keep a food diary and take note of when your symptoms occur. With that you can slowly avoid the foods that 'trigger' your IBS. Stress too can also trigger off symptoms, so relaxation techniques can keep symptoms at bay.