5 Common Symptoms Of IBS & How To Treat Them

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a very common and chronic disorder that affects the large intestine. While only a small percentage of people with IBS experience severe signs and symptoms, others experience more moderate symptoms regularly. Regardless of how mild or severe your IBS is, the symptoms of IBS, which can differ from person to person, can be uncomfortable and frustrating. Below, we will discuss 5 common IBS symptoms and some helpful ways of treating IBS.

Pain and Cramping

Abdominal pain is the most common symptom in IBS. Normally, the bacteria in your gut works to send your brain signals that assist in digestion. When you have IBS, those signals malfunction which can lead to pain in the muscles of the digestive tract. The pain and cramping can occur in the lower abdomen or the entire abdomen, but doesn’t usually occur alone in the upper abdomen. Pain can often subside after a bowel movement.

How to help: Diet modifications, such as a diet low in FODMAPs, can help to alleviate pain and cramping. Most people also feel better after they experience a bowel movement.  


One-third of people with IBS experience a diarrhea-predominant version of the disorder. People with diarrhea-predominant IBS can experience over 10 bowel movements weekly, which is many more than the common person. Diarrhea-predominant IBS can cause an immediate urge to have a bowel movement, which can cause strain within social situations, travel, work, relationships, and more for people.  

How to help: Diet changes can also help with diarrhea, as well as avoiding trigger foods. You can also try over-the-counter medications such as Immodium to help.


IBS can cause constipation as well as diarrhea. Constipation-predominant IBS is the most common type, affecting nearly half of the people with IBS. Constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week. When the normal movement timeframe of the stool slows, the bowel absorbs more water from stool, and it becomes more difficult to pass. While you can have constipation without IBS, it usually is not as painful, while constipation related to IBS can cause moderate to severe abdominal pain.

How to help: Along with the normal IBS treatments, drinking more water and eating additional fiber, as well as taking a good probiotic, can assist with regular bowel movements.

Gas and Bloating

Changes in the digestion process due to IBS leads to increased production of gas in the gut. This can cause uncomfortable bloating. Many people with IBS cite bloating as the most uncomfortable and persistent symptoms of the disease. 

How to help: Avoiding things like gluten and lactose and focusing on a diet low in FODMAPs can help. An over-the-counter medication such as Gas-X can also help with immediate symptoms.

Food Triggers

Many people with IBS say that specific foods can trigger their symptoms, so many people with IBS actively avoid those foods.

How to help: While trigger foods are different for everyone, some common ones include gas-producing foods, such as FODMAPs, as well as lactose and gluten

The first step to treating IBS is to visit a physician who specializes in gastrointestinal medicine. If you’re looking for an IBS doctor in Tampa, call the colorectal specialists at Colorectal Clinic of Tampa Bay. Your nagging symptoms of IBS don’t have to define your life. Making mindful lifestyle and diet changes can help you alleviate the symptoms of your IBS.