IBS with constipation is sometimes referred to as IBS-C or constipation-predominant IBS.
What is Constipation?
Constipation occurs when bowel movements become difficult or less frequent. The normal length of time between bowel movements ranges widely from person to person. Some people have bowel movements three times a day; others, only one or two times a week. Going longer than three days without a bowel movement is too long. After three days, the stool or feces become harder and more difficult to pass.
You are considered constipated if you have two or more of the following for at least 3 months:
- Straining during a bowel movement more than 25% of the time
- Hard stools more than 25% of the time
- Incomplete evacuation more than 25% of the time
- Two or fewer bowel movements in a week
What Are the Symptoms of Constipation?
Symptoms of constipation can include:
- Infrequent bowel movements and/or difficulty having bowel movements
- Swollen abdomen or abdominal pain
Constipation is one of the symptoms often associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The key symptom of IBS is abdominal pain and/or discomfort. The pain or discomfort is associated with a change in the frequency or consistency of bowel habit. The altered bowel habit may be chronic or recurrent constipation, or diarrhea. Some people have both constipation and diarrhea, just at different times. Bloating or distention in the abdomen is also common.
The main bowel habit can change over time. In addition, symptom occurrence can fluctuate over time. There can be periods when symptoms flare-up as well as periods when they diminish or disappear.
Constipation means different things to different people – even doctors. Doctors usually define constipation as hard pellet-like stools. Individuals usually think of constipation as…
- infrequent stools,
- difficulty or straining at stools,
- feeling of being unable to completely empty during a bowel movement, or
- the sensation of wanting to go but not being able to.
There’s a Difference between IBS and Chronic Functional Constipation
People with IBS have abdominal discomfort or pain associated with their bowel habit. They may have symptoms that overlap with functional constipation. People with functional constipation may not have the abdominal pain of IBS. Or they may have less pain than with IBS. They would not have intervals of normal bowel habit and diarrhea with loose stools that can occur in IBS.