How are bowel habits altered in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Updated: Dec 11, 2019
  • Author: Jenifer K Lehrer, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Answer

Altered bowel habit in IBS may have the following characteristics:

  • Constipation variably results in complaints of hard stools of narrow caliber, painful or infrequent defecation, and intractability to laxatives

  • Diarrhea usually is described as small volumes of loose stool, with evacuation preceded by urgency or frequent defecation

  • Postprandial urgency is common, as is alternation between constipation and diarrhea

  • Characteristically, one feature generally predominates in a single patient, but significant variability exists among patients


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