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Symptoms Of IBS: Constipation

One of the most common symptoms of IBS is constipation, particularly in people with constipation-predominant IBS or mixed IBS.1 Constipation was experienced an average of 3 days per week.2 More women suffered from constipation than men.3

What is constipation?

Constipation may be defined as hard, pellet-shaped stools that may leave people with a feeling of incomplete relief after having a bowel movement. Constipation may also alternate with normal bowel habits or diarrhea.1 Most people with constipation-predominant IBS describe the feeling of constipation as extremely or very bothersome.2 Among constipation sufferers, straining and hard or lumpy stools were the symptoms most often experienced. People who suffered from constipation may also report symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating, and gas.3

How is constipation evaluated?

Fortunately, constipation is a symptom that is most likely to be addressed by an IBS sufferer with their doctor.2 Your doctor may use the Bristol Stool Scale to differentiate constipation from diarrhea and monitor treatment response.1

Will medication help relieve my symptoms?

Some people may consider use of over-the-counter laxatives for constipation, which improved stool frequency, but did not alleviate abdominal pain. Antibiotics were also used by some people to improve constipation and bloating.1 More than a third of IBS sufferers would consider taking prescription medication if it improved their constipation symptoms.4

Written by: Truc Thanh | Last reviewed: June 2016.
  1. Wilkins T, Pepitone C, Alex B, Schade RR. Diagnosis and management of IBS in adults. Am Fam Physician. 2012;86:419-426.
  2. Heidelbaugh JJ, Stelwagon M, Miller SA, Shea EP, Chey WD. The spectrum of constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome and chronic idiopathic constipation: US survey assessing symptoms, care seeking, and disease burden. Am J Gastroenterol. 2015 Apr;110(4):580-7.
  3. International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. IBS in the Real World Survey. Summary Findings. August 2002.
  4. IBS Patients: Their Illness Experience and Unmet Needs. IFFGD 2009.