Digestive System Home > Spastic Colon

Spastic colon is simply another name for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). One in five Americans has this condition, making it one of the most common disorders diagnosed by doctors. Symptoms typically include constipation, abdominal pain and cramping, and diarrhea.

What Is Spastic Colon?

Spastic colon is the name of a condition more commonly referred to as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a disorder that interferes with the normal functions of the large intestine (colon). IBS is characterized by a group of symptoms, usually consisting of crampy abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
Through the years, spastic colon and irritable bowel syndrome have also been called colitis, mucous colitis, or spastic bowel. However, irritable bowel syndrome is the most suitable and accurate term because it emphasizes that the condition is a "motor disorder manifesting irritability" that involves "many areas of the gut." Colitis is inaccurate because it means the colon is inflamed, and because IBS does not cause inflammation.

What Are the Symptoms?

In irritable bowel syndrome, the intestines may contract more strongly and frequently than they should, or they may not contract strongly enough. This can lead to problems like:
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain and cramping.
The symptoms of IBS are usually made worse by certain dietary factors and emotional stress. While spastic colon isn't known to increase the risk of cancer or other serious digestive diseases, the discomfort and inconvenience of its symptoms can interfere with a person's enjoyment of daily activities.
There are some ways you may be able to reduce your symptoms and minimize the impact of irritable bowel syndrome on your lifestyle. These include:
  • Eating a healthy diet that's high in fiber
  • Avoiding the foods that make your symptoms worse
  • Eating smaller, more frequent meals
  • Learning more ways to manage stress.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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