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What Are Complications Of IBS?

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: June 2016.

People with IBS may experience several complications or areas in their lives that may be more difficult due to their symptoms. Approximately 66% of people with IBS describe their symptoms as extremely or very bothersome in the way it interferes with daily comfort, work, or activities with family or friends.1 Some other complications may be the occurrence of hemorrhoids or malnutrition.

Poor quality of life

People with IBS tend to have a lower quality of life and greater level of anxiety.2,3 Quality of life (QOL) is a term that describes a person’s daily living experience in association with a chronic medical condition. More than 40% of people with IBS who completed a QOL survey, felt that they were losing “a great deal” or “quite a bit“ of control over their lives due to their IBS. The more severe the IBS symptoms are, the greater the effect on QOL.3

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People feel that their IBS causes the most complication by forcing them to avoid certain foods, feel emotional distress, and interferes with activities. People with IBS also report on average more than 73 days when they need to restrict their usual activities because of their health. This means restricting activities during approximately 20% of the calendar year. For people with severe IBS, the number of days affected by their IBS increases to 139 days, which is about 38% of the year. More people with diarrhea-predominant IBS (IBS-D) restrict their activities due to their symptoms than people with constipation-predominant IBS (IBS-C).3

Missed days of school or work

More than 25% of people with IBS tend to arrive late or leave early from work or school due to an IBS episode. About the same number of people with IBS (26%) miss work or school due to their IBS symptoms over a three-month period. On average, people miss about 8 days in a three-month period, which is more than one day every other week.1

In a survey of people with IBS, about 13% were jobless due to their IBS. Severity of IBS symptoms has a direct impact on employment. About 30% of people with severe symptoms of IBS are unable to work because of their health compared to 5% of people with mild symptoms of IBS.3


Hemorrhoids are swollen veins located in the anus or the lower part of the rectum.4 Hemorrhoids are the most common lesions in people with IBS.5 It’s been reported that 18% to 33% of people with IBS have hemorrhoids.5,6 Hemorrhoids are generally painless but may involve bleeding during bowel movements.4

Hemorrhoids may be caused by the following:4,7

  • Straining during a bowel movement
  • Constipation
  • Sitting for long periods of time, especially while trying to have a bowel movement
  • A low fiber diet
  • Certain diseases


Malnutrition may be a problem for some people with IBS, because certain foods that are important for health maintenance may be avoided to prevent triggering IBS symptoms. For instance, avoiding foods rich in fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPs), which include wheat, rye, vegetables, fruits, and legumes, may lead to poor nutrition. Also, unhealthy food options may be used in place of FODMAPs, which may result in an unhealthy diet.8