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What Causes IBS along With Alternating Constipation & Diarrhea?

What Causes IBS along With Alternating Constipation & Diarrhea?

Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is an ailment that is typically identified by one or many of the following group of symptoms like recognizable changes in the pattern of bowel movements and acute abdominal pain. If IBS patients change their food habit suddenly they may face issues like constipation which can get chronic or recurring, the same goes for diarrhea. Other than discomfort in the stomach and bloating, some IBS patients are found to suffer through constipation and diarrhea both, only occurring at different times.

What Causes IBS along With Alternating Constipation & Diarrhea

Over varying periods of time, the occurrence of the symptoms can also change patterns. There are times when the IBS symptoms flare-up as well as periods when they diminish or disappear.

The causes of IBS along with alternating constipation and diarrhea are not known.

What Medications Can be Taken to Deal with Issues Caused by IBS?

IBS has four main types of symptoms: a. constipation is predominant (IBS-C), b. diarrhea is predominant (IBS-D), c. both is common, or neither of them occurs very frequently.

The different variations of IBS make it impossible for doctors to prescribe a single drug treatment that will relieve all the different symptoms of it. Generally, individual treatment regimens are prepared for patients who have alternating symptoms of diarrhea and constipation.

One thing doctors thoroughly warn IBS patients about is self-medication. IBS patients should always seek expert help. In cases where patients of alternating constipation and diarrhea have had medicines to stop the respective symptoms on their own, have had their IBS situations worsened in the long term.

While self-medication is a strict no-no for IBS, one must put enough effort in maintaining a healthy diet for oneself as changes in dietary patterns can go a long way in controlling this gastroenterological disorder. Dietary elements that are likely to cause gas, bloating, palpitations, diarrhea, and chest flutters should be absolutely avoided. Help should be sought from a professional dietician in figuring out a diet regime suiting every patient’s conditions and it should be looked into that the new diet does not exclude any particular food group altogether. This is because one needs to give all the necessary nutrients to the body and make sure that no nutritional deficiency takes place in the bid to control IBS.

Stress, anxiety and depression have found to be contributing largely in making symptoms like diarrhea worse. Hence it is very important for patients to find their own ways of relieving stress. Exercising not only makes one feel better, it also improves the bowel functions. Massage, yoga, hypnotherapy, and different forms of counseling can also reduce the symptoms.

After diarrhea, constipation is one of the most common symptoms of IBS. One of its major symptoms is acute abdominal cramps, along with infrequent stools, difficulty or straining at stools and the feeling of not having emptied the bowel movements completely.

The difference between IBS and functional constipation lies in the abdominal pain. Along with loose stool, proper intervals in the bowel habits are not noticed in the patients suffering from functional diarrhea due to IBS.

Foods that Affect IBS and How to Deal with it!

Foods and beverages do not cause IBS-Diarrhea or IBS-Constipation, but some may trigger the symptoms or make them worse:

  • Diarrhea, gas, and bloating inducing food like carbonated (fizzy) drinks, milk products, foods high in sugar, caffeine, alcohol, fatty foods, vegetables broccoli, cabbage and beans, which are more likely to induce bloating artificial sweeteners xylitol and sorbitol found in zero-sugar gums and candies, are foods that should be avoided.
  • One should chew one’s food properly; eat slowly and in quiet, relaxed conditions so as to aid digestion.
  • Skipping meals make the condition of IBS worse. One should be very careful about not skipping meals at all.
  • The gap between two consecutive meals should also not be too long. Adding fibers to the regular diet, drinking lots of water and exercising regularly helps significantly in keeping constipation in check. Keeping track of what you and whether you have symptoms after eating, by maintaining a dairy could be an effective tool in combating IBS. Limiting the intake of high-fiber foods like whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, and rice contributes heavily in providing relief from symptoms like gas and bloating.
  • Resistant starch found in foods like cereal, reheated or cold potatoes, bread, etc. does not get digested properly and can helps in gas formation and stomach bloating. Such foods should be avoided.
  • Foods like oats have soluble fiber in them, which help in diminishing flatulence, bloating etc.
  • The urine of a healthy individual should be light yellow or clear like water. To achieve that, one must drink plenty of water.
  • The intake of fresh fruit should be limited to a maximum of 3 portions a day.
  • Limiting caffeine intake to a maximum of 3 cups a day.

Almost 1 out of 10 people with IBS have lactose intolerance. Even non- lactose intolerant IBS patients also do not respond to dairy very well. But the intake of dairy products should not be stopped altogether. The remedial measures could be spreading the amount of dairy intake in small portions throughout the day and having products with reduced lactose content like cheese and yogurt.

Fructose (a sugar found in sweet vegetables and fruits) does not get digested properly by IBS patients and causes bloating and gas. Hence, it should be avoided.

Sorbitol is an artificial sweetener which is used in sugar-free sweets, gums, drinks etc. It has elements which could stimulate diarrhea.

It is advisable to reduce the caffeine intake as is causes acid reflux in patients with IBS.


  1. Mayo Clinic – Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20360016
  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases – Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/irritable-bowel-syndrome
  3. American College of Gastroenterology – IBS in Adults: https://gi.org/topics/irritable-bowel-syndrome/
  4. International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders – Living with IBS: https://www.aboutibs.org/living-with-ibs.html
  5. Gastroenterology & Hepatology – Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation and Functional Constipation in Adults: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3777785/

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 8, 2023

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