Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition affecting the digestive tract. It is characterized by stomach cramps and pain, bloating, and diarrhea, among other things. The causes are largely unknown -- genetics, environment, and diet may all play a role, and even stress is known to make symptoms worse.
For most people with IBS, treatment involves lifestyle and dietary changes. Medications are sometimes -- but not always -- prescribed. Unfortunately, there is no cure right now for this condition and it will have to be managed throughout a person's life. The good news is that IBS is not life-threatening and has no effect on how long a person lives.
(Click Irritable Bowel Syndrome for more information, including how this condition is diagnosed, other names for IBS, important statistics, and more.)