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IBS - diarrhea predominant

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is incredibly common with numbers suggesting it may be present in up to 2 in 10 people. Symptoms tend to start when people are in their twenties or thirties, and it is usually possible to make a diagnosis with your doctor based on symptoms rather than endless tests and consultations.

Doctor’s advice

More information

IBS can mainly consist of mild symptoms or flare up and cause fairly debilitating symptoms. Fortunately, IBS does not cause any serious health implications, but it can have an impact on peoples’ day-to-day lives. The predominant symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome vary from person to person. Some struggle with constipation, others with diarrhea, and for some pain and bloating, with others varying between episodes of a combination of these. If the main or most common symptom you suffer from is diarrhea, then this is known as diarrhea-predominant IBS. People will have episodes of loose stools, along with urgency or increased frequency of passing stools. Around one-third of people with IBS suffer from diarrhea-predominant IBS.

Healthwords pharmacists' top tips

There are ways to help improve the symptoms of diarrhea-predominant IBS. These include trying to avoid the additive sorbitol in your diet and also taking medication that helps prevent diarrhea such as loperamide (Imodium). Loperamide, along with other anti-diarrhea medications, can be purchased over the counter. Your local pharmacist can give you advice on what is best for you. You should speak to your doctor if you are taking it for more than 2 days, you have not already discussed it with them, or prior to taking it if you do not have a confirmed diagnosis of IBS.

When should I see my doctor?

You should book a routine doctor’s appointment if you are experiencing symptoms of IBS. This is so that the doctor can help rule out any other causes of your symptoms and confirm IBS as the likely cause. There is no specific test for IBS; it is what is called a diagnosis of exclusion, where other conditions are ruled out so that IBS can then be confirmed. If you have unexplained weight loss, a fever, feeling generally unwell, or any blood in your stools you should book an urgent visit with your doctor.

What will my doctor do?

The doctor will ask you about your symptoms, your medical history, any relevant family medical history, and what medications you are currently taking. They will likely examine your abdomen, check your temperature, and potentially do other tests such as a blood test or a stool sample.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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