Irritable bowel syndrome or IBS is marked by a wide array of symptoms. In most cases, IBS patients only go through mild symptoms but others have it so severely that it debilitates them. Thankfully, despite the varying intensity by which IBS patients experience their symptoms, IBS is never fatal, unlike other intestinal diseases like colitis or cancer. That is because IBS is more of a functional disorder of the intestinal muscles and does not display any physical abnormalities.
The two most common symptoms of IBS are constipation and diarrhea. Some patients suffer from constipation-dominant IBS while others are more diarrhea-dominant. Sometimes, a patient can have constipation on some days and diarrhea on some.
Constipation happens when the stool gets too bulky and packed up. When this occurs, it is hard to push it out. Diarrhea, on the other hand, makes patients pass stool more frequently. Patients with diarrhea may also suffer from incontinence; a patient with incontinence gets sudden urges to move bowels and is unable to control or delay it. There are times when a person with diarrhea will have another urge right after doing the deed, but this time the stool is harder to release.
Characteristics of Diarrhea
Let us go into more detail on the conditions that characterize diarrhea.
1. Lack of stool consistency. The stools of a person suffering from diarrhea are loose and sometimes liquid in form. People who eat lots of fiber-rich food, vegetables and fruits often have loose and soft feces.
2. Frequent bowel movement. The rate by which healthy people move their bowels varies from person to person. Some people find it normal that they empty their bowels more than once a day, while some people are not bothered by the fact that they do it only a number of times per week. Most people normally do it once a day. People who have diarrhea move their bowels more frequently than what they consider their normal rate.
3. Water with stool. A person with diarrhea sometimes passes water with stool. It is part of the normal digestive process for food to be kept in liquid form. If water passes along with undigested food to the small intestine, the small intestine usually absorbs the water as the undigested food passes along. However, with diarrhea, one of two things tends to happen. There could be too much water for the small intestine to absorb. Or it could be that the stool passed too quickly that there is not enough time for the intestine to absorb the water.
Diarrhea as a symptom largely affects IBS. It can make the condition worse if left untreated. Thus, it is important for an IBS patient, especially the diarrhea-dominant ones, to understand the nature of diarrhea and what should be done in order to reduce its occurrence.