IBS with mixed bowel habits (IBS-M)

Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a digestive condition that affects the large intestine. It can cause uncomfortable symptoms that can affect quality of life such as abdominal cramping and bloating. Not to mention that it can cause changes in bowel movements such as constipation and/or diarrhea. There are several forms of IBS, one of which is irritable bowel syndrome with mixed bowel habits (IBS-M). Let’s learn more about this type of IBS and how you can manage symptoms.

About IBS-M

IBS-M is a type of IBS that can be diagnosed if your bowel movements consist of more than one-fourth of hard and pellet-like stool and more than one-fourth consists of loose and watery stool. Research shows that this type of IBS, also known as IBS-A or IBS-alternating may have alternating constipation and diarrhea over several hours or several days.

In fact, sometimes individuals with this type of IBS may have weeks of constipation followed by weeks of diarrhea. And to have a diagnosis of IBS-M, or any type of IBS for that matter, symptoms should occur for at least six months before diagnosis and should be present for at least three months.

Other symptoms of IBS would include:

  • Bloating
  • Excess gas
  • Bouts of diarrhea in between episodes of constipation
  • Mucus in the stool

Causes of IBS-M

IBS-M, like the other forms of IBS, can be caused by a variety of reasons that may make bowel movements difficult. Such reasons include:

  • Weakened muscle contractions in the intestines
  • Poorly communication between the brain and intestines
  • Inflammation in the intestines that may cause a dysfunctioning immune system
  • A surplus of bacteria the intestine
  • The result of a virus or infection like gastroenteritis

Since IBS-M can be caused by so many different factors, it can be hard to diagnose. However, if you think you may have the condition, you should visit a gastroenterologist to have testing done so you can rule out other more serious digestive conditions like Crohn’s, colitis, colon polyps, or celiac disease that can cause serious symptoms like:

  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea at night
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Unexplained vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Iron deficiency anemia

IBS-M treatment options

If you are diagnosed with IBS-M, then certain things can trigger symptoms. Stress, certain foods, and hormones comprise the majority of such triggers. As far as medicinal treatment options, IBS-M can be challenging since you may need to implement treatments of IBS-C and IBS-D at various times to help manage symptoms.

For example, for constipation symptoms,  research suggests medicines like Linzess or Allergan may help. These medicines are normally used for severe cases of IBS-C. However, for milder cases of constipation, over-the-counter medicines like fiber supplements with psyllium, drinking plenty of fluids with a high-fiber diet, or  using laxatives like milk of magnesia or miralax may help.

If you’re having diarrheal symptoms, then one treatment is the antidiarrheal rifaximin which works to help improve bloating, stool consistency, and abdominal pain. Another medicine is eluxadoline, which works to relieve abdominal pain and stool consistency.  Finally, loperamide, an anti-diarrheal could help.

It’s important to have a doctor recommend the appropriate medicine(s) and treatment options that could help you manage your symptoms. For example, if you don’t like taking medicines, then research also shows that many people with IBS find relief of symptoms from following a low FODMAP diet. You can read below and then visit the Casa de Sante website to learn more about how to get started on such an eating regimen.

How to eat with IBS-M

Some foods that may trigger IBS-M symptoms include those that are high in FODMAPs. This includes:

  • Wheat, barley, and rye
  • Certain vegetables like asparagus, cauliflower, garlic, Brussels sprouts, celery, leek, button mushrooms, or onions
  • Cow’s milk and related milk products
  • High fructose fruits like apples, cherries, mangoes, pears, or peaches
  • Products containing sugar alcohols like sorbitol, mannitol, or xylitol
  • Products containing high amounts of high fructose corn syrup

To learn more about foods that are low FODMAP, download this printable low FODMAP shopping list created by Casa de Sante.

Take home message

IBS-M can be a painful condition that can make mealtime stressful and in turn negatively affect quality of life. If you think you might have IBS-M, then you should visit a specialist to see if you have the condition or some other digestive issue. Then, if you are diagnosed with IBS-M, you can start a treatment plan that may include diet changes, medicine, and/or stress management techniques to help you manage symptoms. For more information on gut health as well as low FODMAP product resources, be sure to visit the Casa de Sante website today.

Back to blog

You might want to check

1 of 12