What is irritable bowel syndrome?

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a group of symptoms that include changes in bowel movements and pain in the abdomen.


The most common symptoms of IBS are discomfort in the abdomen and changes in stools. Although IBS is a chronic condition, symptoms may come and go.

Children with IBS may have constipation, diarrhea or both. The symptoms often start after eating. Other symptoms can include:

  • bloating
  • whitish mucus in the stool
  • the feeling of not having finished a bowel movement


In most cases, your child’s doctor will diagnose IBS based on a physical exam and medical history.


IBS is treated by managing the symptoms. Treatment options may include a combination of diet changes and medications.

Learn more about Pediatric Gastroenterology services at Boston Children’s Health Physicians.

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