Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is not a disease, but refers to a syndrome that may involve abdominal pain, bloating and cramping, as well as changes in bowel movements, often with alternating diarrhoea and constipation. IBS can occur at any age, but it often begins in adolescence or early adulthood and is more common in women. Symptoms are usually mild but can occasionally be debilitating. They can be brought on by stress, after meals and sometimes improve after a bowel movement. There is no ideal test for IBS however it is often necessary to perform investigations in order to exclude more serious problems such as bowel cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. These may involve colonoscopy, scans or blood tests. Treatment is aimed at symptom relief and may include dietary modification, lifestyle changes, measures to improve stress and medication such as antispasmodics, laxatives or constipating agents depending on symptoms.