The signs and symptoms of IBS are considered too vague to make a diagnosis. This will frustrate you as it means that you need to wait for testing to be done.
You can find a description of the testing you need to get an IBS diagnosis here.
It is important to get a diagnosis because you could have various other digestive diseases.
In this article, I will explain the main symptoms of IBS and what causes them.
Symptoms of IBS
1. Bloating Symptoms in IBS
Bloating is a common symptom of IBS.
In IBS, bloating is caused by trapped gas which leads to your tummy being pushed out. It may be the one symptom which really gets you down as it makes you tired, is uncomfortable and can make you appear larger than you are.
You can read more about the causes of bloating here.
Stomach Pain and Cramping Symptoms in IBS
IBS causes abdominal pain at least 1 day / week (1).
This symptom is thought to be caused by hypersensitivity in the gut. This means the gut is often telling the brain you are in pain when there is nothing going on.
Not ideal is it?
2. Excess Gas
Everyone farts and burps!
But it is quite embarrassing having to deal with gas you can not control isn’t it – pretty mortifying actually!
Excess gas is a real issue in IBS and is comes from changes in the gut bacteria. The symptom of excess gas may also occur due to a certain food malabsorption.
3. Diarrhoea is a Sign of IBS
Believe it or not, diarrhoea has quite a specific definition.
“Diarrhoea is defined as the passage of three or more loose or liquid stools per day (or more frequent passage than is normal for the individual)” (2).
4. Loose Stools
If your IBS symptoms do not meet the criteria for diarrhoea – check out the chart below.
The is the Bristol Stool Chart which you should use to monitor your symptoms.
Types 5-6 would be considered loose.
Constipation is considered a sign of IBS.
There is no real accurate definition of constipation unfortunately. For this one you need to look at your stool type and movement.
Ideally, you would open your bowels daily as a type 4. If your bowels are opening but they are difficult to pass or a type 1-2 then this is constipation.
If you are suffering with IBS then you will likely feel quite tired (3).
Fatigue is a symptom of IBS which is likely due to a combination of factors. Regular pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea will all make you feel fatigued.
You may also feel quite stressed and low in mood about your symptoms. Stress and a low mood have also been linked to fatigue.
7. Low Mood and Anxiety
Through the gut-brain axis, we know that mental health is linked to IBS.
So, it is not surprising that you may feel lower in mood or suffer with anxiety. In one paper, it was even suggested that people with anxiety and depression are twice as likely to suffer with IBS.
IBS signs and symptoms include a variety of issues. All of which will leave you feeling out of control and mortified as an adult.
Symptoms alone are NOT enough to get a diagnosis so please ensure you get this done!
If your symptoms are not included in this list, then please report them to your doctor – it could be a different issue going on.
AND finally, do not continue to put up with these symptoms! Get help as soon as you can do by working with a specialist dietitian.