IBS-D Symptoms, Ranked

Having IBS-D provides me with a variety of symptoms. Some are merely a nuisance; others make life feel impossible at times. Lately, I’ve been experiencing some new forms of IBS flares which have led me to think about the worst and least problematic of my IBS symptoms. Here’s my ranking, starting with the worst.


I was debating whether to put pain or urgency at the very top. Then I remembered that at least, pain doesn’t make you feel like you’ll have an accident if you don’t get to a bathroom now. So, urgency it is.

I simply hate having to run the bathroom, even when I’m at home. It’s so much worse when I’m not. I despise remembering all the stressful situations it has put me through. The various times I had to leave an event, hang up the phone, stop working, interrupt a movie.

I honestly believe that without the urgency, having IBS-D wouldn’t be as much of a problem. Well, except for the pain. I can’t deal with that either.


I have a very low pain tolerance, so getting cramps during my flares basically makes me feel like I’m about to die. Thankfully, I don’t always get cramps, and most of my flares so far have been more uncomfortable than actually painful.

If anyone tries to tell me that IBS cramps aren’t bad, I disagree. I have given birth before, and although I only made it halfway through before I was begging for an epidural, I can honestly say that those cramps come close to the contractions I experienced. They’re not a joke. And unlike labor contractions, they’re not even for a good cause.


Bloating is one of those symptoms that can range from minor discomfort to a serious pain. Literally. Although the pain associated with bloating doesn’t come close that of IBS cramps, it still feels debilitating. Especially when it lasts for hours and hours, with no end in sight.

When bloating isn’t at its worst, it mostly contributes to me feeling uncomfortable and sluggish. Sometimes I also get nauseous when I’m bloated for too long. And since it can last for days and there’s not much I can do about it, it’s still one of the symptoms that bother me most.

Having to use the bathroom often

Needing to go to the bathroom multiple times a day is annoying. But without the urgency, it wouldn’t be as much of a problem. Imagine being out and about and realizing you need a bathroom, but actually being able to wait until you find one without breaking out in stress sweats? That wouldn’t be all that bad.

Food intolerances

The need to follow a specific diet while avoiding a whole range of trigger foods might be a big problem for some people. It isn’t for me. I honestly don’t like food all that much. I’ve always had a sensitive stomach and was never able to eat what I wanted, so I’m kind of used to that. I also don’t get why all social interaction needs to revolve around eating.

I live in France, and French people love their fancy foods. Holidays with my in-laws often feel like they aren’t as much about getting together as a family and more about oysters and foie gras. There are people who live for cheese and charcuterie, and others who focus so much on healthy eating that they won’t even look at carbs. And then there’s me, eating mostly rice and chicken.

And yet, I don’t care all that much. As long as I’m not suffering from malnutrition, I’m fine with my restricted diet. And the only thing I really miss are chocolate desserts – although I did find some yummy gluten-free brownies lately.

What is your ranking of IBS symptoms? I know that I’ve missed a couple, but these are the ones that impact me most. I’d love to know your take on this!

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