Medical Terms

A Brief IBS Glossary

Having been diagnosed with IBS, you have likely consumed a lot of information about this condition. Some of the words and terms you are likely to encounter are relatively straightforward, others not so much. See below for a brief medical glossary of IBS.


Often called the belly;section of the body between the chest (thorax) and pelvis. Contains many parts of the digestive tract (e.g., stomach, small intestine, and large bowel [also known as the colon]).


Lack or loss of the appetite for food. Not to be confused with AnorexiaNervosa –a clinically diagnosable eating disorder.

Antispasmodic Drugs

Suppress the contractions of smooth muscle in the intestines.

Belching/eructation (burping)

Voiding of gas through the mouth.


Feeling of abdominal distension or fullness. Feeling as if one’s belly is swollen.


Persisting or recurring over a long period.

Colic (cramps)

Acute, sharp abdominal pain that comes and goes


The large intestine/large bowel. The colon is located between the small bowel and extends to the rectum.


Persistent or recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort centred in the upper abdomen.


Sensation of food or liquid sticking to the oesophagus (muscular tube connecting mouth to your stomach).

Early satiety

A feeling that the stomach is over-filled soon after starting to eat.

Flatus/flatulence (farting)

Expulsion of gas through the anus.

Functional disorder

A disorder of brain-gut interaction (DBGI). Any condition in which an organ or part of the body does not work the way it is supposed to, in the absence of blockage, inflammation or cancer.


The sensation of a lump in the throat.


A foul (unpleasant) odour from the mouth.


A burning feeling in the lower chest.

Incontinence, faecal

Leakage of stool (faecal soiling).


A sensation of needing to vomit.


Contractions of the muscle of the digestive tract and movement of its contents.


Pain in the chest as food or drink passes through the oesophagus.


Reflux is caused by the presence of stomach acid into the oesophagus resulting in the feeling of heartburn in the throat and upper gastrointestinal area.


Return of stomach contents into the throat or mouth.


Ejection of matter from the stomach through the mouth.