IBS and diarrhea (IBS-D)

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 diarrhea. Let’s learn more about this type of IBS and how you can manage symptoms.

About IBS-D

IBS-D is a type of IBS that can be diagnosed if your bowel movements consist of more than one-fourth of loose and watery stool and less than one-fourth are hard and pellet-like stool. Those with IBS-D  experience more frequent loose stools and cramping, urgency that is not relieved by defecation, and mucus in the stool. Other symptoms of IBS would include:

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

Causes of IBS-D

IBS-D can be caused by a variety of reasons that may make bowel movements difficult. Such reasons include:

  • Weakened muscle contractions in the intestines
  • Poor 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-D 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

Also, research shows that the occurrence of additional symptoms or disorders  such as GERD, dyspepsisa, interstitial cystitis, migraine headaches, and fibromyalgia may also increase the probability of a positive IBS diagnosis.

How to eat with IBS-D

Some foods that may trigger IBS-D 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. Some people with IBS also find that eating fried or fatty foods also trigger their symptoms, therefore avoiding such foods could reduce the frequency of symptoms.

IBS-D Treatment Options

Research is working to find effective treatment options for IBS-D to help reduce episodes of loose stools and improve quality of life for such patients. One such 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, is also another medication option used to help those with IBS-D reduce symptoms.

Take home message

IBS-D 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-D, 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-D, 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.


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