The main symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are
- abdominal pain or discomfort,
- a change in bowel habits.
The change in bowel habits may result in having too frequent stools or having bowel movements less often than usual. The consistency of the stool may be different than usual; it may be watery, or it may be harder or more lumpy than usual. Diarrhea (having loose stools three or more times a day, accompanied by a sense of urgency) can be a symptom of IBS. Likewise, constipation (straining to have a bowel movement or having less than three stools per week) may also occur. Some patients experience alternating episodes of diarrhea and constipation.
Other symptoms sometimes seen with IBS include
- passing mucus along with stools,
- a sense that their bowel movements are not complete,
- flatulence (passing gas).
When abdominal pain occurs, it is often relieved by having a bowel movement.