What are the typical symptoms of IBS?
The key defining symptoms of IBS are abdominal pain or discomfort that is associated with alteration in bowel function. The abdominal symptoms are typically located in the lower abdomen, but frequently move throughout the abdomen. These symptoms are often intermittent but can occur continuously. Although the Rome III criteria require these symptoms be present only 3 days per month, they often occur more frequently. Other symptoms that are common but not essential for the diagnosis include bloating or feeling of abdominal distention, urgency, and incomplete evacuation.
Individuals with IBS often have other GI and non-GI symptoms including upper GI symptoms (i.e., dyspepsia, heartburn, and nausea). Extraintestinal symptoms commonly present in patients with IBS, including urinary frequency and urgency (especially in women), sexual dysfunction, fibromyalgia and other rheumatologic conditions, dyspareunia, poor sleep, low back pain, headaches, chronic fatigue, loss of concentration, and insomnia. The number of these symptoms tends to increase with the severity of IBS. The presence of one or more of these intestinal or extraintestinal symptoms does not discriminate between IBS and organic intestinal diseases.