Types of IBS: IBS Isn’t One-Size-Fits-All

"I have IBS." When you tell someone you have IBS, they often think you have diarrhea. Many think that is what IBS is and they have no idea that there are different types and symptoms. It is maddening at times. Nobody wants to explain over and over how IBS affects them.

While it is frustrating when people make assumptions and are often wrong in those assumptions, maybe we need to work on awareness. I know, I know. We should not have to keep explaining this. I am just as annoyed by it as you are. Perhaps a bit of an explanation might help spare someone from the annoyance of wrongful assumptions. If you are tired of having to explain it I will explain it for you.

There are different types of IBS

IBS is not a condition that has one set of symptoms. There are different types. While these types may share some symptoms, they also have a few very different symptoms. Some experience symptoms others do not. It is different for everyone as no two people are affected exactly the same.

Some people have various triggers. Some people are triggered by pretty much everything. There are some people who can manage symptoms with medication, but medication does not work for everyone. There is no preventative medication for some types of IBS. We are all dealing with our own personal set of symptoms, treatments, and triggers. If we say something bothers us, it bothers us.


This is the type most people are familiar with, and some think this is the only kind of IBS. IBS-D is characterized by frequent bouts of diarrhea, but that is not the only symptom. It is more than a simple case of diarrhea. I would describe it as similar to food poisoning. A flare can happen suddenly and without warning. Urgency can cause bowel incontinence, leading to embarrassing accidents.

A flare can be triggered by foods, liquids, spices, stress, or nothing at all. There is no rhyme or reason to any form of IBS. It just is what it is and tends to be completely out of our control at times. Pain may prevent us from leaving home. Chronic diarrhea may prevent us from leaving home. No matter what keeps us home, please understand and do not try to coax us into going out when we tell you we cannot.


Some people know about IBS-C. It is the exact opposite of IBS-D, but it is just as painful and problematic. Chronic constipation can lead to bowel impaction and obstruction. It can cause fissures and hemorrhoids. This is not a regular case of constipation.

If someone with IBS-C tells you they do not feel like leaving the house, they mean it. It is painful. Yes, they do need to stay near a bathroom. Ignoring the urge to go can make things much worse so it still causes someone to run back and forth to the bathroom in hopes of going. Bathroom trips may take longer, too.


This is the type that most people do not know about. It combines all the fun of IBS-D and IBS-C. It flips from one to the other without warning. One type of IBS is no better or worse than the other, as they are all equally horrible. However, this type has all the symptoms. Preventative medication is not available for IBS-M. Treatment involves treating symptoms as they arise. Basically, we use over-the-counter medication to try to treat whatever is happening at the moment and hope it does not trigger a flare with the opposite symptoms.

Do you have IBS? Are you tired of explaining IBS to others? Do you have a friend or family member with IBS? Did you know about the different types of IBS?

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