About Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is one of the most common problems of the digestive system. IBS is what’s referred to as a functional disorder and is a long-term condition that causes recurring pain or discomfort in the abdomen and altered bowel habits.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can develop at any age, but for most people, the first symptoms tend to show up in early adulthood. Women are more likely than men to get IBS and to have more severe symptoms.

Types of IBS

Irritable bowel syndrome can present in three basic forms. It can be predominantly:

Constipation based – bowel movements alternate between constipation and normal stools with symptoms of abdominal cramping or aching commonly triggered by eating.

Diarrhea based – diarrhea is a major problem first thing in the morning or after eating with an urgent need to go to the toilet. Sometimes incontinence may be an issue with alternating constipation and diarrhea.

Symptoms of IBS

Although symptoms vary from one person to the next, some of the more common indicators of IBS include:

  • abdominal pain or cramping (often relieved by passing wind or faeces)
  • diarrhea, constipation or a combination of both
  • a sensation that the bowels are not fully emptied (especially just after having a bowel movement)
  • abdominal bloating
  • mucus in the stools
  • excess wind
  • nausea
  • indigestion
  • backache
  • tiredness
  • bladder problems

When should you see your doctor?

To some people, IBS symptoms might not be very noticeable.

If you have any of the symptoms of IBS, a persistent and noticeable change in your bowel habits, or if you have any of the more serious signs listed below, see your doctor as soon as possible.

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Abdominal pain that progresses or occurs at night
  • Sudden weight loss

Important! These symptoms are not specific to IBS. They may be attributed to conditions other than IBS, including Coeliac Disease which can damage the lining of the intestine. If you have any of the above symptoms, let your doctor determine if Coeliac Disease is present or if the symptoms point to other conditions.

Causes of IBS

Irritable bowel syndrome is just another one of those conditions where there doesn’t seem to be a definitive cause. That said, there are some things that trigger attacks including:

Infection — persistent bowel symptoms can linger after a bout of gastroenteritis — sometimes long after the offending bacteria or virus has been eliminated. Up to 25% of IBS may be due to this problem.

Food intolerance — sugars, particularly lactose (found in dairy and many processed foods) is the most common dietary trigger for IBS. Fructose and sorbitol are also believed to trigger IBS.

General diet — low fibre diets can lead to constipation-predominant IBS. Some people find foods such as chocolate, spices, fats, fruits, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, milk, carbonated beverages and alcohol all cause problems.

Emotional stress — stress or anxiety, can affect the nerves of the bowel.

Hormones — women are twice as likely to have IBS which leads researchers to suggest that hormonal changes can play a role in bringing about symptoms of IBS. Many women find that IBS symptoms are worse around and during their menstrual cycles.

How to Protect youself

If you are struggling with incontinence because of IBS. While you seek treatment, don’t let incontinence restrict your life! DEPEND® highly absorbent Protect TAPE or Protect Plus Pants protects against loss of bladder control and are expertly designed for the ultimate discreet and comfort.


Do also take care of your health by having a modest increase in dietary fibre, together with plenty of clear fluids

Grab A Free Sample

These articles might also be interesting to you

Read More
Read More
Bladder Infection
Read More

Kimberly-Clark Singapore makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical or other health professional advice.


Arnold, J., McLeod, N., Thani-Gasalam, R. and Rachid, P. (2012). RACGP - Overactive bladder syndrome –management and treatment options. [online] Racgp.org.au. Available at:
http://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2012/november/overactive-bladder-syndrome/ [Accessed 6 Apr. 2015].

Bladderclinic.com.au, (2011). Overactive Bladder (OAB). [online] Available at:
http://www.bladderclinic.com.au/bladder/overactive-bladder-oab [Accessed 6 Apr. 2015].

Cherney, K. (2013). Home Remedies for Overactive Bladder. [online] Healthline. Available at:
http://www.healthline.com/health/overactive-bladder/home-remedies#Overview1 [Accessed 6 Apr. 2015].

Eilber, MD, K. (2015). What Is The Difference Between A Small Bladder And An .... [online] EmpowHER. Available at:
http://www.empowher.com/overactive-bladder/content/what-difference-between-small-bladder-and-overactive-bladder-dr- [Accessed 6 Apr. 2015]

Maher, MD, C. (2003). Welcome to Chris Maher's Urogynaecology Australia Web Site. [online] Urogynaecology.com.au. Available at:
http://www.urogynaecology.com.au/Overactive.htm [Accessed 6 Apr. 2015].

Siamak N. Nabili, M. (2014). Overactive Bladder: Facts for Men, Women, and Children. [online] MedicineNet. Available at:
http://www.medicinenet.com/overactive_bladder/article.htm [Accessed 6 Apr. 2015].

Tidy, MD, C. (2013). Overactive Bladder Syndrome, Bladder Problems | Health | Patient.co.uk. [online] Patient.co.uk. Available at:
http://www.patient.co.uk/health/overactive-bladder-syndrome [Accessed 6 Apr. 2015].

Webmd.com, (2014). Overactive Bladder in Children (Child Incontinence): Signs, Causes, and Treatment. [online] Available at:
http://www.WebMD.com/urinary-incontinence-oab/overactive-bladder-in-children [Accessed 6 Apr. 2015].

Other urinary incontinence causes