Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common condition characterized by symptoms of constipation and/or diarrhea (often alternating), abdominal pain (predominantly low down on the left side), bloating and flatulence. It is a diagnosis made when investigations and tests such as X-rays, colonoscopy and microscopic examinations of the bowel motions are normal, which means that no serious disease such as bowel cancer or colitis is present. It is said to be a functional disorder, meaning that the bowel appears normal in all aspects but just doesn’t work normally. This common problem has been known in the past by several names including “spastic colon” or “nervous bowel”.  Women are affected twice as often as men and it tends to be a chronic disorder that comes and goes over many years.  Irritable Bowel Syndrome affects tens of millions of people worldwide; it is estimated that at least 20 percent of all gastro-related doctor visits may be due to IBS symptoms. IBS affects up to 1 in 5.

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