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How To Deal With Constipation When You Have IBS-D

As an IBS-D sufferer, you probably know the daily struggle of having to use the bathroom way too often. The embarrassment of flare-ups in public, the anxiety that comes with it. Living with IBS-D for almost 4 years has made diarrhea one of the things I am most afraid of - at least when I’m not at home.

But even me, a person who constantly has to cope with too frequent bowel movements, knows the occasional constipation period. They’re usually triggered by changes in my diet, like whenever I consume too much meat or fat. And since they happen so rarely, I used to have absolutely no idea how to deal with them.

How to deal with constipation when you have IBS-D

Just to be clear, I don’t think that my constipation episodes are nearly as bad as those of IBS-C or IBS-M sufferers. They make me feel unwell, but not bed-bound, and they probably don’t last as long. But nonetheless, they happen, and it’s a good idea to know how to handle them.

Even though I’m still no expert at it, I can point out a couple of mistakes that you really shouldn’t make when trying to deal with constipation as an IBS-D sufferer. Believe me, I’ve made them all.

Do not consume trigger foods

It might sound silly, but my first reflex when dealing with constipation was to consume a trigger food of mine. I mean, if milk usually gives me pretty bad diarrhea, then it might be a great way to treat constipation, right?

Well, it’s not. First of all, it’s a trigger food, so nothing good can come from it. And second, even if it were to solve your constipation problem, it would probably result in a full-blown flare-up that is not fun - and will probably leave your stomach upset for days.

I’ve had to learn the hard way that constipation doesn’t seem so bad anymore after you’ve spent hours running back and forth between your bed and the bathroom while desperately trying to reduce the pain in your stomach. Not fun.

Do not overcompensate with too much fiber

With my IBS-D, I’m usually not able to consume much fiber. If I do, I get terrible bloating or even a flare-up, depending on how much I ate. And yet, whenever you have a constipation episode, it seems logical to eat more fiber. After all, that should get your digestion going, right?

In my personal experience, I noticed that whenever I overcompensate like this, I end up having pretty bad diarrhea once the constipation is gone. And that’s not something I want!

Lately, I’ve tried both options: adapting my food to get rid of constipation, or continuing to eat safe foods to prevent an IBS-D flare-up.

Even though it’s difficult to compare, I found that whenever I stuck to safe foods, I wouldn’t get the opposite reaction once the constipation was over. Sometimes I would just go back to normal bowel movements. Other times my stomach did feel a bit weird, but not too bad.

On the other hand, overcompensating with fiber almost always lead to a flare-up rather than to solving my problem.

Try to see the bright side

Even for an IBS-D sufferer, constipation does not feel good and the bloating and pain that come with it aren’t exactly fun. But to me, who always struggles with way too frequent bowel movements, it also has an upside.

For once, I’m able to leave the house in the morning, which is a luxury I can usually only dream of. Instead of having to wait for my morning IBS to be over, I can just get up and get on with my day, even though I don’t feel that great.

So, instead of trying so hard to get rid of constipation, I decided to carry on as best as I can whenever these episodes happen. I stick to my safe foods (but avoid eating too much fat), do not drink coffee or consume anything that could upset my digestion while I’m away from home, and try to take advantage of the fact that I don’t have to use the bathroom.

For me, these constipation episodes don’t tend to last too long if I avoid the foods that cause them. And if I make sure that I don’t upset my IBS in any way, I usually don’t even get a flare-up when they’re over.

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