What Are the Symptoms of IBS-C and CIC?

We all have likely experienced constipation at one time or another. Constipation can make you feel uncomfortable, but it is likely those symptoms go away after a bowel movement. However, if you experience constipation often or it is accompanied by abdominal pain, it may be a sign of a more serious condition.

Irritable bowel syndrome with constipation, or IBS-C, is a condition where one experiences long periods of constipation with abdominal pain. Prolonged periods of constipation without a known cause could be a condition called chronic idiopathic constipation, or CIC. People with CIC often experience less than three bowel movements per week, hard to pass bowel movements, bloating, straining, discomfort, and not feeling empty after a bowel movement. A recent survey of adults living with IBS and CIC found that 7 out of 10 respondents were diagnosed with IBS-C or CIC within the last 5 years. The causes of CIC and IBS-C are currently unknown but may be due to changes in how the brain and the intestines communicate, changes in the bacteria in the gut, or certain medical conditions.

Speaking with a Healthcare Provider

For many patients with IBS-C or CIC, treatments are available that may help provide constipation relief. The first step to finding relief is to make an appointment with a healthcare provider to discuss all of your symptoms and try to identify the root cause of your constipation. In addition to asking about your symptoms, your healthcare provider may ask you to describe your stool in more detail, and you may be shown the Bristol Stool Form Scale, a visual representation of the 7 different types of bowel movements that you can have. Be sure to ask about the treatment options that may be available for you.

A symptom diary may help track flare-ups and help identify common triggers.
A symptom diary may help track flare-ups and help identify common triggers. Adobe Stock

Living with Constipation

If you have been diagnosed with IBS-C or CIC, it’s important to know that you are not alone! IBS affects 13.7 million adults in the United States. Be an advocate for your own health care and educate yourself about IBS-C or CIC to better understand the condition and to have more informed discussions with your doctor. It may be helpful to keep a symptom diary to keep track of your flare-ups, including any possible triggers. By identifying common triggers, you can work on taking steps to reduce the impact. Don’t be embarrassed to speak with a healthcare provider about your symptoms. The more information you share, the better equipped your healthcare provider will be to help you manage and treat your IBS-C or CIC.

For some, constipation can be an awkward topic, but speaking with your doctor about your symptoms and stools is an important step to finding treatment options that may be right for you. To learn more about IBS-C and CIC symptoms and a treatment option for adults, click here.