Healthy Living

What Is IBS with Diarrhea (IBS-D)?

What Is IBS with Diarrhea (IBS-D)?

If you are suffering from IBS-D, you may experience belly pain that is usually associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and you will be forced to make several trips to the bathroom. The letter "D" stands for "diarrhea".

General Causes

There is no actual cause of IBS-D. However, the following are some of the probable culprits:

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  • Bacterial infections - due to Salmonella and Campylobacter, which are usually found in contaminated food and water.
  • Problems associated with the digestive system - as a result of a sudden, strong contraction of the intestines.
  • Food sensitivity - Some foods such as dairy products, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables can trigger symptoms for people with IBS. These foods are known to increase gas, which can result in cramps.
  • Stress and anxiety - If you’re always worried and stressed, you’re likely to have IBS.
  • Sensitive intestines - Such people’s intestines may be more sensitive to normal activities. When their intestines are stretched due to gas or stool, they might experience excessive pain. Too many bacteria in the small intestine can also cause pain. This problem can also be hereditary.


The major symptoms of IBS-D are belly pain and diarrhea. According to research, IBS is associated with multiple symptoms, which include:

  • Gas
  • Acute abdominal pain
  • Strange sudden urges to pass stool
  • Watery/loose stool

However, there are some acute symptoms that can be very bothersome. They include:

  • Acute abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Unexpected urges to have bowel movements

If you have been affected by IBS with diarrhea, you may experience other symptoms such as:

  • Frequent bowel movements
  • A feeling that you cannot fully empty your bowels
  • Nausea

Getting a Diagnosis

Your doctor will do a physical examination and conduct a routine blood test to rule out any other problems. He or she might also ask you questions such as:

  • What kind of symptoms are you experiencing?
  • When did you start experiencing them?
  • Have you noticed anything that worsens the symptoms?
  • Are you allergic to any particular food?
  • Are you stressed?
  • Is it affecting your life in any way?
  • Is there anybody in your family who is suffering from IBS?

Since there is no single test for IBS, your doctor may also recommend several tests that together can help him rule out other diagnoses.

Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor

Managing an IBS-D is all about understanding it as much as possible. Therefore, ask your doctor questions like:

  • How is the diagnosis done?
  • What is the recommended treatment?
  • What results should you expect and when?
  • What other things apart from medicine that might help?
  • What kinds of food should I avoid?
  • Should I seek the advice of a dietitian?


Usually, a doctor will prescribe medicine that will ease your belly pain and control diarrhea such as:

  • Anticholinergic Drugs - He or she will recommend you medications such as Bentyl (dicyclomine) or Levsin (hyoscyamine), which play a vital role in stopping severe cramping and minimizing colon contractions that might lead to acute pain as well as diarrhea.
  • Antidepressants - A small dose of tricyclic antidepressants (amitriptyline, imipramine, and nortriptyline) or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (citalopram, fluoxetine, and paroxetine) can relieve belly pain.
  • Anti-Diarrheal Drugs - Drugs such as diphenoxylate, atropine, and loperamide can help slow down stool while moving down the digestive tract. However, it is advisable to speak with your doctor before taking any of these drugs.
  • Anti-Anxiety Drugs - If anxiety is making the symptoms worse, anti-anxiety drugs such as clonazepam, diazepam, and lorazepam are all you need. However, get them prescribed first.
  • Talk Therapy - Counseling is perfect for those people whose anxiety triggers an IBS-D.

A Few Home Remedies

IBS with diarrhea is not a pleasant thing. You may feel pain and discomfort in your abdominal area. Moreover, bloating and gas come in the package. There is no specific cure for it, but proper care can reduce discomforts.

1. Workout

Exercise keeps you physically and mentally fit. Stress is one of the causes of irritable bowel syndrome as discussed earlier in this article. Exercise helps reduce stress, which in turn, reduces the discomfort caused by a bowel movement. There are many exercises that are specific to release stress such as yoga. You can also contact a physical therapist for proper guidance.

2. Consume More Fiber

The fiber content in food helps ease certain symptoms caused by IBS with diarrhea. However, at the same time, certain fibrous fruits and vegetables can cause gas in the stomach. This can be avoided by steaming or cooking the food. Your doctor may also recommend that you take a fiber supplement, such as Metamucil rather than dietary fiber. Consulting a dietitian is also beneficial in this case.

3. Avoid Dairy Products

Certain IBS–D happens due to lactose intolerance, although the effect of dairy products may vary from person-to-person. Lactose is present in most dairy products. However, doctors would usually recommend that you to stay away from dairy products if you have IBS-D. In this case, you will ensure that you consume proteins and calcium through other sources.

4. Be Cautious with Laxatives

Laxatives are substances that loosen stools and increases bowel movements. They are used to prevent constipation. You need to be cautious while using laxatives such as polyethylene glycol or milk of magnesia. Some of these medicines need to be taken 20 to 30 minutes before meals to prevent having symptoms. You can either follow the directions on the pack to avoid mistakes or speak with your doctor.

5. Eat Smart

There are certain types of food that you completely need to avoid. They might have a good amount of fiber, but may bring in other problems. Some of them are beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, alcohol, chocolate, coffee, soda, and dairy products.

6. Relax

IBS-D causes nausea, stress, and anxiety. In such circumstances, it is necessary that your body receives as much rest as possible. Symptoms of stress and anxiety can be reduced through relaxation techniques, which in turn, reduce discomfort.

7. Play Your Part

Accept your condition and take it up as a challenge. Ultimately, it is you who has to take care of yourself. Adopt a healthy lifestyle and consult a doctor as to what you should or should not do.