Irritable Bowel Syndrome Diagnosed and Treated at Mercy in Baltimore


Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a chronic condition affecting your large intestine. With IBS, the muscular contractions of your colon are abnormal. This video describes the symptoms and common treatments for IBS as well as possible factors that exacerbate it.

At The Center for Inflammatory Bowel and Colorectal Diseases at Mercy, Dr. Mary Harris and Dr. Matilda Hagan are recognized experts in treating bowel diseases. People who experience symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, turn to Drs. Harris and Hagan for treatment options.

About the Condition

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a disorder in which the bowel does not function properly. Normally the intestine muscles contract and relax in a coordinated rhythm to move food through the digestive system. With IBS, the contractions may be stronger or last longer either forcing food through the system more quickly, which causes gas, bloating, and diarrhea, or slowing the food passage causing constipation.

Irritable bowel syndrome:

  • Does not cause the bowel tissue to become inflamed
  • Does not cause the intestines to become permanently harmed
  • Is not the same as inflammatory bowel disease
NEXT: Symptoms & Diagnostic Process ›
Symptoms & Diagnostic Process

Irritable bowel syndrome occurs more in women than men. Common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain
  • Bloating

People experiencing abdominal pain lasting at least 12 weeks, but not necessarily consecutively, should see a doctor specializing in digestive disease to determine if they have IBS.

A hydrogen breath test can be used to help diagnose IBS. To rule out other conditions, the following tests can be conducted:

NEXT: Treatment Options ›
Treatment Options

Irritable bowel syndrome treatment focuses on lifestyle changes that include:

  • Not eating foods that aggravate the intestines
  • Eating smaller meals
  • Eating more fiber
  • Exercising regularly
  • Getting enough sleep