Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is especially hard on people at work, but there are ways to cope.
Even getting ready to go to work can be hard for people with some types of IBS. It's not unusual for IBS sufferers to have four to five bowel movements before they leave the house, says Jeffrey Roberts, president and founder of the IBS Self Help and Support Group. The group has 25,000 active members online, as well as face-to-face meetings in the U.S., Canada, and other countries.
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This all makes it difficult for researchers to find a single drug treatment that will relieve all the symptoms of IBS. Different medications work for IBS with constipation and for IBS with diarrhea. Doctors will usually tailor an individual treatment regimen for people who have IBS with alternating symptoms.
People with alternating IBS symptoms should not try to treat themselves, says J. Patrick Waring, MD, a gastroenterologist at Digestive Health Care of Georgia.
"They should not take something for their constipation on their own, and then when they get diarrhea, take something for their diarrhea, and go back and forth," he says. "That can actually exacerbate the problem."
J. Patrick Waring, MD, gastroenterologist, Digestive Health Care of Georgia.
Medscape.com: "Diagnosis, Pathophysiology, and Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome," and "Consensus Report: Clinical Trial Guidelines for Pharmacological Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome."
American College of Gastroenterology.