Frequent readers of this bulletin board will notice that the same questions are asked over and over and that there are some logically inconsistent answers that seem all too commonly accepted.The most important thing to understand about IBS is that it is just a name for a collection of symptoms. The definition is provided by the Rome Criteria (the third edition is quoted here):_________________C1. Diagnostic Criteria* for Irritable Bowel SyndromeRecurrent abdominal pain or discomfort** at least 3 days per month in the last 3 months associated with 2 or more of the following:1. Improvement with defecation2. Onset associated with a change in frequency of stool3. Onset associated with a change in form (appearance) of stool*Criteria fulfilled for the last 3 months with symptom onset at least 6 months prior to diagnosis.**Discomfort means an uncomfortable sensation not described as pain. In pathophysiology research and clinical trials, a pain/discomfort frequency of at least 2 days a week during screening evaluation for subject eligibility.Diagnosis depends on careful interpretation of the temporal relationships of pain/discomfort, bowel habit,and stool characteristics. Pain/discomfort related to defecation is likely to be of bowel origin, whereas that associated with exercise, movement, urination, or menstruation usually has a different cause. Fever, gastrointestinal bleeding, weight loss, anemia, abdominal mass, and other â€œalarmâ€ symptoms or signs are not due to IBS, but may accompany it.GASTROENTEROLOGY 2006;130:1480â€"1491 (pubmed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.f...=pubmed_docsum)_______If you have these symptoms you have IBS, by definition. IBS is, by definition, just a group of symptoms affecting the digestive tract that havenâ€™t been explained. Unlike cancer, a stroke, or the flu, IBS is more of a starting point than a diagnosis, because it doesnâ€™t provide any new information, it is just a name for what is already known. Once a person has the symptoms it is necessary to do additional testing to identify the cause of those symptoms - what you might call an actual diagnosis. Once you have an actual diagnosis, then you can treat whatever it is that causes the symptoms and usually stop them.A second common misconception is that IBS symptoms are only caused by one thing. Nothing could be further from the truth. The digestive tract is very complicated, but can only display a limited range of symptoms. There are many things that can cause constipation, diarrhea, and associated abdominal discomfort/pain. Any individual might have one or more of the causes as any one time. There is a wide range of causes of IBS symptoms and many patients have more than one cause, sometimes several causes, at the same time. To correctly diagnose the cause of IBS symptoms it is necessary to test for a range of potential causes. If you donâ€™t treat all of the conditions you have, your IBS symptoms probably wonâ€™t be resolved.The third misconception is that there is a single treatment for IBS. This misunderstanding goes along with the previous misconception- that there is only one cause. The reason that there isnâ€™t a single treatment for IBS is that there isnâ€™t a single cause. If all IBS were caused by bacterial infection, treatment would be simple â€" use antibiotics to remove the infection and probiotics to re-establish the needed digestive bacteria. Any of you gentle readers who have tried the 'cure' for IBS know that no single cure works for everyone. That is because there are many, sometimes overlapping causes. For this reason there will never be a single simple treatment for IBS symptoms. Lastly, but perhaps the most common misconception is that IBS is caused by stress. If this were true the world would be full of IBS patients. (Our brave men and women in Iraq would be incapacitated completely). Patients are told all the time by their doctor that stress is the problem, but once you identify the cause or causes and treat them, the symptoms are resolved. This has been show in treatment of people with food allergies (like celiac), bacterial issues (like SIBO), parasitic issues (like Giardia), etc. What is even more interesting is that many patients report that while they had IBS symptoms they also had a heightened sense of anxiety, but that it went away when they treated their underlying condition. That is not to say that stress canâ€™t make IBS worse. Stress can affect the immune system and that can impact IBS symptoms. But stress is almost never the main cause of the symptoms.This is an informational posting. Please feel free to consider the logic for yourself, or refer to the vast array of research published on the subject. I won't be responding to any postings that may follow this one.EDIT by Moderator to make it so the long link is known to the BB software as a link so it will allow the thread to be a more readable width.