Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive disorder that affects people differently. Although one person may experience constipation and diarrhea, another person with IBS might have chronic constipation, abdominal pain, and bloating. The good news is that treatments can help you manage your type of IBS and its symptoms and lead an everyday life.

About 10-15% of the world’s population deals with IBS. Since it manifests differently in each person, there are three types of IBS diagnoses: IBS-C (Constipation-Predominant), IBS-D (Diarrhea-Predominant), and IBS-M (Mixed Constipation And Diarrhea-Predominant). Let’s break these down

IBS-C (Constipation-Predominant)

IBS-C is the most common subtype of IBS. This type is often characterized as hard or lumpy bowel movements and straining and infrequent bowel movements. People with constipation-predominant symptoms also report feeling bloated or having a sense of incomplete evacuation after going to the bathroom. 

This type of IBS seems to be triggered by changes in the colon that lead to a slowing down of peristalsis (the rhythmic contraction of muscles that push food through the intestines). Certain foods can trigger constipation in some people, such as dairy products, wheat, and foods that contain fiber.

IBS-D (Diarrhea Predominant)

This type occurs when someone experiences loose, unformed stools at least 25% of the time with severe cramping and urgency to defecate

Someone with IBS-D will likely experience a strong urge to have a bowel movement just before and during a stool. This is often associated with nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and excess mucus in the stool. Usually, abdominal pain accompanies episodes of diarrhea, ranging from mild to severe. 

Some people have reported that their symptoms are caused by certain foods such as milk products, fats, or spicy food. These types of food are known to increase the motility of the intestines.

IBS-M (Mixed Constipation And Diarrhea-Predominant)

People with this type experience symptoms from both constipation and diarrhea subtypes. They might have constipation followed by diarrhea or vice versa. They may also experience gas, bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue after eating foods that trigger IBS symptoms, and an urgent need to defecate immediately before having a bowel movement.

IBS-M can be influenced by anything that changes muscle contractions within the colon.

Treatments For IBS

Treatments for IBS sufferers vary. For some patients who do not respond to over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs may be necessary to help control symptoms associated with this disorder. 

Some studies have shown that antidepressants can help reduce anxiety in some people, which may improve the overall quality of life and reduce bowel movements. These medicines usually take about 4-8 weeks before any improvement. 

It is also recommended that an elimination diet be pursued to detect food sensitivities that may trigger IBS symptoms. Eating can trigger symptoms of IBS in many people because it stimulates contractions by the intestinal muscles, which increases motility. 

If this method is inadequate, eating smaller meals at various intervals throughout the day rather than three large ones may stabilize bowel movements. 

Other foods that cause problems include caffeinated beverages, alcohol, dairy products, and fatty/fried foods. Staying hydrated is also very important, as dehydration can lead to constipation if fluids are not taken regularly during the day.

Alternative remedies may also be tried as they have been known to help many people with IBS. These include acupuncture, hypnotherapy/hypnosis, massage therapy, herbal medicines, meditation, and yoga.

How IBS Can Affect Someone’s Quality of Life?

IBS can have both physical and psychological effects on those suffering from it. Some studies have shown that IBS sufferers have a higher rate of psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression than the general population. 

This affliction is easily misunderstood or misdiagnosed without proper testing, and it can make people with IBS feel frustrated and depressed because of their condition. Some people even avoid social situations because they are embarrassed by their symptoms.

Needham Gastroenterology Associates Can Help With IBS 

Needham Gastroenterology Associate professionals are here to help if you believe you may be suffering from IBS. Many diseases share the same symptoms as IBS, so we encourage you to contact us and set up an appointment so we can help diagnose what is causing these issues and find an effective treatment.