IBS that causes increased diarrhea is often called IBS-D. If you have IBS-D, you have belly pain and other IBS symptoms plus frequent bowel movements. Your stool might be loose, though not always. You also might have sudden urges to use the bathroom.
While there isn’t a cure for IBS-D, there are treatments that can improve the quality of your life and help you feel better.
What Causes IBS-D?
Researchers don’t know what causes IBS or IBS-D. We do know that women are more likely to have it than men, and it’s more common in adults under 50. If you have a family member with IBS, your odds of getting IBS or IBS-D go up.
With IBS, your colon is more sensitive than normal. It can react to things like stress, bacteria, and even certain foods.
Your brain also plays a role and may respond too much to signals that control your colon. The result: Your intestines squeeze too hard, making food move too quickly through your system. That can cause pain, diarrhea, and other problems like gas.
How Is IBS-D Diagnosed?
There isn’t a test that tells you if you have IBS-D (or any kind of IBS). Instead, your doctor will look at your health history and symptoms. If you’ve had abdominal pain and other signs of IBS for at least 3 months, you may have it.
If you have other symptoms, like rectal bleeding, weight loss, or a family history of gastrointestinal cancer, your doctor may want you to have tests to rule out other possibilities.
These can include a blood test to check for celiac disease and a colonoscopy to check for abnormal growths and signs of cancer. (During a colonoscopy, doctors use medication to sedate you, then insert a tube with a tiny camera into your rectum and your large intestine to see if it’s healthy.)
How Is IBS-D Treated?
Getting relief from your IBS-D may take some detective work. You’ll probably need to try several strategies and use many different techniques at a time. Make sure your doctor is in the picture. She can work with you to find an effective plan.