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Constipation Caused by a Spastic Colon (aka IBS)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), once known as a “spastic colon” is a gastrointestinal condition that can cause bouts of constipation and diarrhea. Certain people with IBS can experience chronic periods of either constipation or diarrhea, but not all the time. Treatment for constipation caused by IBS will be different than for those who experience IBS with diarrhea.

Symptoms of IBSConstipation Caused by a Spastic Colon (aka IBS)

It is stated in “Harrison’s Manual of Medicine” that IBS manifests in teenagers and early 20s.  Infrequent bowel movements can be difficult to pass and contain hardened stool. The abdomen can become distended with waste backup, which only a bowel movement can resolve. Unfortunately, movements typically only produce small amounts of dry, round stool. This is usually accompanied by a feeling of incomplete emptying. Side effects of a backed up system can be uncomfortable, and include:

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Back pain
  • Weakness
  • Heartburn
  • Palpitations
  • Faintness
  • Frequent urination

Causes of IBS

“Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment” reported in 2010 that several abnormalities can exist with motor movement in the intestines. Large and small intestines have reduced motility, unlike IBS sufferers prone to diarrhea.

People suffering from IBS are acutely aware of the sensitivity in their intestines. They are aware of a coming bowel movement, but then only expel a tiny amount of waste. Some can feel their large intestines contracting, which is a process known as “peristalsis“.

It is estimated that 10% of people suffering from IBS first experienced the symptoms within a year of having a bacterial infection in the large intestines. Only 2% of the control group was affected.

Constipation Caused by a Spastic Colon (aka IBS)Treatment for IBS

IBS flare-ups can be set off by stress. Chronic stress has been associated with more frequent IBS symptoms.  A doctor should be seen if IBS symptoms increase so he can rule out causes other than stress.

Treatment needs to include changes to the diet. It was reported in “Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment, 2010” that fruits, vegetables, and plenty of fluids need to be added to daily consumption before any sort of fiber supplement. An overabundance of fiber will lead to feeling bloated and may make a bowel movement more difficult.

Laxatives and stool softeners can provide assistance. Milk of magnesia is helpful with improving stool consistency. There have been other drugs released that specifically treat constipation IBS


IBS has treatable symptoms, but it’s a chronic condition a person will never be completely cured. Therefore, it is important to find a long-term solution. Striking the right balance between diet, supplementation, and medicine can take time and persistence. Just as important, identifying and avoiding those foods that cause bloating or discomfort can bring comfort.


One must consider a hidden physical ailment just as much as ailments related to irritable bowel disorder. Depression, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping can manifest into other physical issues. Fear of another illness may cause stress which manifests as intestinal problems. Someone suffering from IBS should take interest in their own health so they can report their findings to a doctor who would be able to eliminate IBS as a possibility.

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*The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the Editor. Results may vary from person to person and cannot be guaranteed.

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