DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Can irritable bowel syndrome be managed without medication, or is it typical that someone with this condition will need medication to control symptoms?

ANSWER: Medications can be used to treat irritable bowel syndrome, but not everyone who has this disorder needs medication. For some people, particularly those with mild symptoms, lifestyle adjustments, such as diet modification, stress management and regular exercise, are enough to control symptoms. For moderate to severe symptoms, a combination of lifestyle changes and medication may be necessary to manage irritable bowel syndrome.

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