Here’s what we’re going to cover
- What is IBS -C?
- What Other Symptoms Might You Have with IBS-C?
- What Causes IBS-C?
- How to Treat IBS-C
Constipation may seem preferable to diarrhea, but not if you are the one suffering from constipation. As you know it is incredibly uncomfortable to not have regular or complete bowel movements, and it can be a huge interference to your life.
What is IBS -C?
IBS-C can come in a lot of different varieties.
Some people with IBS -C have bowel movements every day, but they are very hard to pass and might never seem to feel complete. Others only have a bowel movement every few days, or only if they take a laxative or a lot of fiber or something else to induce the bowel movement. .
Other people have complete bowel movements, but they take a really long time and require a lot of straining. Some people have to spend hours and make multiple trips to the bathroom every day in order to feel like they’ve completely evacuated. And even then, many of those people never feel like it’s complete.
Some people describe their stools as rabbit pellets, and some say that their stools are very sticky and muddy and don’t want to come out.
And some people have bowel movements that start out at constipation, but then end as loose stools or diarrhea.
What Other Symptoms Might You Have with IBS-C?
For example, abdominal pain or discomfort is common. That pain or discomfort could be anywhere in the abdomen, and it could be anywhere in severity from mild and achy to severe and cramping to the point where you want to go to the hospital.
Or you might not have abdominal pain.
And you might have gas and or bloating. And again, that can range widely in severity.
Some people have bloating so bad that they describe it as rock hard or like being several months pregnant.
But you might not have any gas or bloating.
And you might have nausea, or heartburn or reflux. Or you might not have any of those things with IBS-C.
But all of these situations qualify as IBS-C.
And if this is happening to you on a regular basis and you’ve seen a gastroenterologist, had a colonoscopy and had other things ruled out, then you need expert IBS help from an IBS specialist.
What Causes IBS-C?
There are literally hundreds of different causes of IBS-C. Most people think it’s because they need more fiber or water or that their diet should be better. Diet is often a cause, but it’s not as simple as all that. There are literally hundreds of causes of IBS-C.
Unfortunately, most treatments don’t address they cause. They only treat the symptoms. There are laxatives, and fiber products, and MiraLAX, and Dulcolax, and Colace and prunes, and all kinds of things for constipation. Hopefully they help some and give you a little relief. But they aren’t going to cure anything. And they are only really meant for the occasional constipation, not chronic problems like IBS-C.
There are literally hundreds of different causes of IBS-C. Things like bacterial overgrowths, Candida overgrowths, microbiome imbalances, food reactions of all types and the list goes on and on. A lot of the same things that can cause diarrhea, can ironically also cause constipation. Why is it diarrhea in one person and constipation in another? No one knows. But I’ve seen it happen thousands of times. I guess we’re all different.
So there is no one or two or even just a few causes of IBS-C. That’s why you are having so much trouble figuring out what it is and how to treat it. And that’s why your doctor is having so much trouble figuring it out too. Because they aren’t experts in IBS-C.
How to Treat IBS-C
So that’s why you can’t just buy that latest great pill for IBS-C and solve your problem. Because there isn’t one. You need an IBS expert to help you find out exactly what is causing your symptoms so that you can get better for the long term. And that’s very different than seeing a gastroenterologist and having a colonoscopy. That is not going to help you solve your IBS-C, although it’s important to rule out other things.
Don’t lose hope. You haven’t seen the right person yet. And if you need more help, we’ve worked with thousands of IBS-C patients from all over the country via telemedicine to help them get their lives back. And we can work with you too, regardless of where you live. So please don’t hesitate to give us a call. It’s worth getting your life back.
Dr. Wangen is the founder and medical director of the IBS Treatment Center, the award winning author of two books, and a nationally recognized speaker on digestive disorders. He has been on ABC, NBC, and Fox as well as public radio, and was named one of Seattle’s Top Doctors by Seattle Magazine.