Irritable bowel syndrome -- IBS for short -- is a condition affecting the usual function of the colon. The condition is chronic, which means it can last throughout a person's life. Fortunately, it is not life-threatening and can often be successfully managed through diet, lifestyle modifications, and even medication in some cases.
IBS is quite common, affecting up to 20 percent of the U.S. population. Women are usually affected two to three times more than men. The exact cause of the condition is unclear. Research scientists are exploring the possible role of genetics, the environment, and even the immune system.
(Click Irritable Bowel Syndrome for more information, including how a diagnosis is made, possible symptoms, what to expect when living with this condition, and more.)