Irritable bowel syndrome with constipation affects 13 million adults in the United States, and 57 percent of these adults have not seen a physician in the last 12 months.
Irritable bowel syndrome with constipation, or IBS-C, is one of three major subtypes of IBS. IBS is a functional gastrointestinal disorder defined as abdominal pain or discomfort, along with altered bowel habits. There are three subtypes: IBS with constipation (IBS‑C), IBS with diarrhea (IBS‑D) and mixed IBS (IBS‑M) where there is both constipation and diarrhea.
Abdominal pain lasting three or more days a month for at least three months that is improved by having a bowel movement
- Having hard or lumpy stool at least 25 percent of the time
- Having loose or watery stool at least 25 percent of the time
- Bloating, gas pain or strained bowel movements
Beyond the Basics
Many who suffer from this disorder report psychological symptoms, including depression and anxiety. Often, these symptoms can adversely affect the gut and symptoms of bowel conditions. It is imperative to seek treatment from a trained medical professional when experiencing any change in mood or behavior.
Unfortunately, as of today, there are no proven treatments to completely rid one of IBS-C. However, some people are able to find a mix of therapies that works for them to get temporary relief. The following may help.
Changes in Diet
Many suffering with IBS-C have reported less symptoms when they change what they eat. Fiber reduces constipation by softening the stool, making it easier to pass. According to the experts, women should consume 25 grams and men 38 grams of fiber daily. Foods high in fiber include broccoli, peas, lima beans and Brussels sprouts—think green. In addition, stay away from coffee, carbonated drinks and alcohol. Drinks such as these may slow down your stools.
To help combat constipation, some people have tried fiber supplements. These include wheat bran, corn fiber, calcium polycarbophil and psyllium. They also come in vitamin and gummy form.
Doctors may suggest medications to help relieve some symptoms of IBS-C, such as constipation or belly cramping. Ask your local physician for his or her professional opinion on options that may be beneficial for your specific case.
Some people find relief in alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and herbs.
Studies have shown that reducing tension or worry can improve IBS symptoms. Simple activities such as listening to music, taking a bath or reading are great ways to lower stress.