Diet and Nutrition

Is My Diarrhea Caused by Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Is My Diarrhea Caused by Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common gut disorder. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is unlike inflammatory bowel disease and differs from other bowel conditions. It is a group of several symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, constipation, and diarrhea that causes much misery but usually does not, however, cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract. Researchers have found that women are more affected by IBS than men and more often seek medical help. Though it does not cause a severe problem, it can leave a significant effect on the human body. Having a close relative with IBS may slightly increase your chances of having it. IBS does not increase your risk for other more serious conditions such as bowel cancer.


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People whose primary IBS symptom is diarrhea have what's called diarrhea-predominant IBS, or IBS-D. Diarrhea episodes caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) always seem to strike at the most inappropriate times. These symptoms can be embarrassing, inconvenient, and distressing. If you have diarrhea-predominant IBS, there are ways to manage your symptoms.

What Are the Causes of IBS?

The main reason behind irritable bowel syndrome is still undiscovered. People who have a sensitive colon or weak immune system are more prone to this disease.The symptoms of this disease may be different but the most common physical processes are the following:

  • Slow movement of the colon that causes muscle aches
  • Abnormal level of serotonin secretion affecting liveliness and bowel movement
  • The mild celiac disease is responsible for showing IBS symptoms. 

It is not understood by doctors what causes diarrhea in IBS patients. Some people notice that the diarrhea occurs when they are stressed or anxious. If you notice that your diarrhea episodes seem to always occur around stressful situations, perhaps it is the stress that your body feels that’s causing your gut to react. Others may notice a coincidence of diarrhea with the consumption of certain foods. To figure out which foods might be causing your diarrhea, consider some common triggers, like dairy foods.

Symptoms of IBS

IBS does not show any fixed symptoms. It varies from person to person, and the symptoms are visible only for a specific period of time. However, almost all IBS patients suffer from gastrointestinal problems at least for three months or 3 days per month. Gas generation, bloating, nausea etc. show up if someone has an irritable bowel syndrome attack.

How Is IBS Diagnosed?

There are several types of diagnosis and diagnosing IBS will depend on an individual's reported problem. Doctors take a stool sample from the patient and also want a blood test report to check if there is any sign of anemia.

Treatment Plan for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome does not have any specific treatment plan. When a diarrhea patient gets the confirmation that his disease was caused by IBS, he has no way out other than changing his lifestyle and developing new habits. One can follow these steps to recover and get relief from IBS symptoms:

  • Exercise
  • Having several small meals
  • Avoiding spicy or fast food
  • Not eating deep-fried food
  • Minimizing stress 

Sometimes, doctors suggest medications as a treatment of irritable bowel movements. One should discuss with his doctor for finding the right medication for him. Otherwise, it may worsen the situation. For example, if someone shows only symptoms of constipation, he is prescribed only two drugs named linaclotide and lubiprostone. Over-the-counter medications are also helpful but one must consult a doctor prior to taking any type of medication.

Dietary changes that may help include avoiding foods that may trigger your symptoms. Common foods that cause diarrhea are whole meal bread, wholegrain cereals, caffeine, lactose, sugar-free gum, and sweets. It might also help if you keep a food and symptom journal, noting your diet and the severity of your daily symptoms. Avoid trying out any elimination diets that exclude certain foods, without medical supervision. Having regular meal times, not skipping meals, and drinking plenty of water will help reduce your problems.

Living with IBS

IBS is an uncomfortable disease that causes both physical and mental distress. People try to avoid their workplaces and social gatherings due to this bothersome disease.

It is unsurprisingly related to stress. High levels of stress causes an increase in the symptoms of IBS. One's colon responds even to the slightest conflict within the body. Thus, IBS is greatly affected by stress. If the patient recognizes that certain stressful situations will produce diarrhea, it may be reasonable to take an anti-diarrhea medication ahead of time.

Therapies that comfort a person by promoting relaxation are very useful. Some of them are:

You can also try alternative therapies like hypnotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy which have been seen to help some people with irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea. How they work is that they help control fears and change the way the patient thinks about their disease in order to prevent the body from reacting with diarrhea.

Risk Factors

When someone has diarrhea caused by irritable bowel syndrome, his digestive system may go through these risk factors:

  • Too fast or too slow movement of small intestines and the colon
  • Contamination of the intestine by bacteria or viruses
  • Unusual level of bacterial growth in the small intestines
  • Imbalance in the reproductive hormones
  • Too much sensitivity toward full bowels
  • Nausea

The Bottom Line

Irritable bowel syndrome is very uncomfortable but it is different from inflammation causing ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease. IBS does not affect the bowel tissue and there is no risk of colorectal cancer if the symptoms gradually start occurring. There is hardly any case where irritable bowel syndrome shows serious symptoms and causes severe illness. Even some people deal with this disease by changing their lifestyle, mastering the way to eliminate stress, and changing their food choices and eating habits.  

People with IBS-D can often find relief in several different types of treatment. These include making changes to your diet, taking medication, finding ways to relieve stress, or trying behavioral therapy or alternative therapy. It may be necessary to try a combination of these methods to get relief. However, the most important thing to do is to seek medical advice from a certified professional.

Key Takeaways

  • IBS is also known as spastic colon, mucous colitis, irritable colon, and spastic colitis.
  • It is responsible for contamination by bacteria or viruses.