Unfortunately, IBS can seem like a medical mystery.
Medical experts know what it is -- a real bowel disorder that's affected by genetic, physical, emotional and lifestyle factors.
They know the signs and symptoms of IBS.
But no one knows exactly why it develops.
Your intestines have several muscle layers that continuously tighten and relax to propel food through your digestive system.
Face the future with hope
IBS seems to result from changes in the muscle function or nervous system signals between the brain and bowel, including reactions to stress, hormones and other factors.
Since IBS affects so many people today, it's a growing priority for researchers and the health care community.
Improved treatments and medications are emerging, and together with better coping strategies they can help people control IBS symptoms and live full lives. To get the latest news on treatment approaches, join Living Well with IBS.
Think like a detective
The more a person with IBS can trace symptoms back to their "triggers," the better they can avoid them in the first place.
If you have IBS symptoms, see if any of the following triggers could be the culprit.