Irritable Bowel Syndrome | Symptoms and Treatment | MedStar Health

IBS (also known as spastic colon, intestinal neurosis, and nervous indigestion) refers to a disorder of the lower intestinal tract that leads to abdominal pain and abnormal bowel movements.

The cause of IBS is not known, but it can occur after an intestinal infection (post-infectious IBS). IBS symptoms may be worse in patients who also have stress or mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression; however, these conditions do not cause IBS.


Symptoms range from mild to severe with most people experiencing the milder ones.

  • Abdominal distention

  • Abdominal fullness, gas, bloating

  • Abdominal pain that:
    • comes and goes

    • is reduced or goes away after a bowel movement

    • occurs after meals

  • Chronic and frequent constipation, usually accompanied by pain

  • Chronic and frequent diarrhea, usually accompanied by pain

  • Emotional distress

  • Depression

  • Loss of appetite


The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms.

Lifestyle changes can be helpful in some cases of IBS.

  • Regular exercise

  • Improved sleep habits

  • Dietary changes

Other possible treatments may include:

  • Counseling in cases of severe anxiety or depression

  • Anti-diarrheal medications for those whose main symptom is diarrhea

  • Low-dose antidepressants to help relieve intestinal pain

  • Medications to stimulate bowel movements for those with constipation

Our providers

Dr Nadim Haddad talks with a patient during an office visit at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

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MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

9000 Franklin Square Dr.
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital

5601 Loch Raven Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Harbor Hospital

3001 S. Hanover St.
Baltimore, MD 21225

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital

201 E. University Pkwy.
Baltimore, MD 21218

MedStar Montgomery Medical Center

18101 Prince Philip Dr.
Olney, MD 20832

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

7503 Surratts Rd.
Clinton, MD 20735

MedStar St Mary's Hospital

25500 Point Lookout Rd.
Leonardtown, MD 20650

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Rd. NW
Washington, DC, 20007

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

MedStar Health: Endoscopy Center at Lutherville

1300 Bellona Ave.
Suite A
Lutherville-Timonium, MD 21093

MedStar Health: Primary Care at Dundalk Professional Center

1576 Merritt Blvd.
Ste. 14
Dundalk, MD 21222

MedStar Health: Primary Care at Honeygo Center

5009 Honeygo Center Dr.
Ste. 216
Perry Hall, MD 21128

MedStar Health: Primary Care, Gastroenterology, and Endocrinology at Baltimore

5601 Loch Raven Blvd.
Russell Morgan Bldg.
3rd floor
Baltimore, MD 21239

MedStar Shah Medical Group at Calvert Arts Medical Center

130 Hospital Road
Suite 300
Prince Frederick, MD 20678


MedStar Health: Primary Care at Lafayette Centre

1133 21st St. NW
Bldg. 2
6th Floor
Washington, D.C., 20036

MedStar Shah Medical Group at Philip J. Bean Medical Center

24035 Three Notch Rd.
Hollywood, MD 20636


MedStar Shah Medical Group at Fort Washington

900 E Swan Creek Road,
Fort Washington, MD 20744

MedStar Shah Medical Group at Waldorf

10 St. Patrick's Drive
Waldorf, MD 20603

MedStar Shah Medical Group at Shanti Medical Center

26840 Point Lookout Rd.
Leonardtown, MD 20650

MedStar Health: Surgery Center at Lafayette Centre

1133 21st St., NW
Building 2
10th Floor
Washington, D.C., 20036