Common irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms
The main symptoms of IBS are:
- stomach pain or cramps – usually worse after eating and better after doing a poo
- bloating – your tummy may feel uncomfortably full and swollen
- diarrhoea – you may have watery poo and sometimes need to poo suddenly
- constipation – you may strain when pooing and feel like you cannot empty your bowels fully
There may be days when your symptoms are better and days when they're worse (flare-ups). They may be triggered by food or drink.
What can trigger IBS symptoms
IBS flare-ups can happen for no obvious reason.
Sometimes they have a trigger like:
- certain foods, such as spicy or fatty food
- stress and anxiety
Other symptoms of IBS
IBS can also cause:
- farting (flatulence)
- passing mucus from your bottom
- tiredness and a lack of energy
- feeling sick (nausea)
- problems peeing, like needing to pee often, sudden urges to pee, and feeling like you cannot fully empty your bladder
- not always being able to control when you poo (bowel incontinence)
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if you think you might have IBS
They can check for IBS and do some tests to rule out other problems.
Ask for an urgent appointment if you have:
- lost a lot of weight for no reason
- bleeding from your bottom or bloody diarrhoea
- a hard lump or swelling in your tummy
- shortness of breath, noticeable heartbeats (palpitations) and pale skin
These could be signs of something more serious.
Page last reviewed: 24 February 2021
Next review due: 24 February 2024