According to WebMD, flat ribbon stools are a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome. This condition not only causes abdominal discomfort and altered bowel habits, but it can also alter stool form.
MedlinePlus describes irritable bowel syndrome as a disorder that causes bowel changes and abdominal pain. Other symptoms of the condition includes gas, fullness and bloating. Individuals with irritable bowel syndrome go back and forth between loose, watery stools, or diarrhea, and constipation, stools that are hard and difficult to pass. The condition may also cause a lack of appetite. Irritable bowel syndrome is a very common condition, affecting approximately one out of six people in the United States. The reason it develops is unclear, but it can develop after an intestinal infection.
According to WebMD, a person suffering from irritable bowel syndrome generally has bowel movements that are more frequent when abdominal pain is present. Visible abdominal distension is another symptom of this condition.
The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome range from mild to severe and can be present for as little as three days, three months or longer, notes MedlinePlus. Irritable bowel syndrome is not a life-threatening disease. Make a few lifestyle changes to ease the symptoms of the condition such as avoiding coffee, tea and other drinks that stimulate the intestines; eating smaller meals; increasing fiber intake; and getting regular exercise.