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What are the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome?

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Quick Answer

Although symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome may vary based on age and current health conditions, most people experience a bloated feeling, abdominal cramping or pain, gas, diarrhea or constipation, according to the Mayo Clinic. Some individuals also experience mucus in the stool with irritable bowel syndrome.

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Full Answer

When suffering with this chronic condition, bouts of diarrhea and constipation may alternate from one day to the next, explains the Mayo Clinic. Signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome may disappear completely, worsen or improve over time.

Individuals with irritable bowel syndrome may also experience pain in the lower belly and changes in the patterns of bowel movements, according to WebMD. Irritable bowel syndrome is not typically diagnosed until the patient experiences belly pain and common symptoms for at least six months, or for three days each month for at least three months. Physicians diagnose by determining if pain is relieved with a bowel movement, if the pain is linked to any changes in the consistency or appearance of the stool, or if the frequency of bowel movements affects pain.

Some patients may also experience symptoms with irritable bowel syndrome that are not directly related to the intestines, explains WebMD. For example, anxiety, depression, fatigue or sleep problems may impact the severity of the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

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