The Calm Before The Storm: Constipation In IBS-D
Last updated: May 2023
My worst flare-ups tend to happen right after I’ve felt really good for a while. Like, for example, when I just had an IBS-free day.
I have IBS-D, so I have very limited experience with other IBS variants. However, I still get episodes of constipation once in a while. And yes, for me, constipation means not using the bathroom for one or two days.
At first glance, it seems as if I should be happy about this break. But I can’t be. Because in my experience, constipation in IBS-D is just the calm before the storm.
Usually, I get IBS symptoms every morning. It’s not always a full-blown flare, but I at least need to use the bathroom and feel miserable for a while.
But once this episode is over, I know that I've finished digesting yesterday’s food and I can get on with my day.
For example, I would never eat or voluntarily leave the house before my morning IBS flare has passed. But that just doesn’t work when I’m experiencing constipation, which means that I’ll be worrying about my next bowel movement for the rest of the day. Even though I’m technically feeling okay (I don’t get IBS-C, so I usually don’t have any bad symptoms), I just can’t enjoy my day anyway.
Another big issue I have with episodes of constipation is that I’m always drawn to eating food that isn’t safe. For one, because I’m hoping that it’ll help (it never does), secondly, because I tend to throw caution out the window whenever I’m feeling good.
Over the years, I had to learn the hard way that it’s never a good idea to steer away from safe foods, even when I’m not experiencing IBS symptoms right now.
And yet, I never seem to learn from my mistakes. When I’m IBS-free, even for a day, I tend to forget how bad it gets. I let myself be tempted by delicious treats and healthy food choices. Even though I know, deep down, that it’s the worst thing I could do.
Knowing what’s about to come
The terrible thing about constipation with IBS-D, at least for me, is that my IBS symptoms usually come back with a vengeance once the episode is over. One or two days without a bowel movement are followed by terrible diarrhea and a flare-up that can last for several days.
This is why I have to try and limit myself to safe foods and not eat too much during such episodes. If I do, I’ll be sure to regret it later. And like I said, I almost always end up regretting it later.
The never-ending flare-up
Once the constipation episode is over, I usually feel like retiring from the world and setting up camp in the bathroom for at least the next 24 hours. It’s no joke.
In my case, I feel like my digestive system has taken a short break and is now releasing all the IBS symptoms I missed out on all at once.
And there’s nothing I can do. I have to wait for every single meal of the past days to be processed, and it’s exhausting. It’s tiring to feel that miserable for a long time. It’s hard to know that I’m nowhere near the end. And it’s incredibly difficult to maintain a normal life during this time.
If you’re also an IBS-D sufferer, I’d love to know if you ever experience anything similar! If yes, how you deal with it?
Which of the following symptoms of IBS do you experience most frequently?