Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) health centre

Select a topic to explore more.
Select An Article

Types of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms include stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation.

There are three main types of IBS, described by their main symptoms: diarrhoea, constipation or a mixture of the two:

  • IBS with constipation. This comes with stomach pain and discomfort, bloating, abnormally delayed or infrequent bowel movement, or lumpy/hard stool.
  • IBS with diarrhoea. This comes with stomach pain and discomfort, an urgent need to move your bowels, abnormally frequent bowel movements, or loose/watery stool.
  • IBS with alternating constipation and diarrhoea.

There are about an equal number of people in each category. There is also evidence that most people with IBS will alternate between types over time.

This makes it difficult for researchers to find a single drug treatment that will relieve all the symptoms of IBS.

Identifying the type of IBS is important for doctors to decide on a treatment.

Different medications work for IBS with constipation and for IBS with diarrhoea. Doctors will usually tailor treatment for people who have IBS with alternating symptoms.

The Core charity says the type of IBS that appears to follow gastroenteritis often leads to persistent diarrhoea.

A person's bowel movements with IBS may change over time needing an adjustment in treatment.

Next Article:

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on August 04, 2016

Mind, body & soul newsletter

Looking after your
health and wellbeing.
Sign Up Now!

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

woman blowing nose
How to tell the difference
smiling baby
Causes and remedies
bowl of soup
Small changes that lead to weight loss
boy looking at broccoli
Simple tips for feeding fussy eaters
cold sore
How to cope with cold sores
boy coughing
Treatments for cold and fever
bain illustration
Best foods for your brain
bucket with cleaning supplies in it
Cleaning for a healthy home
avacado on whole wheat crackers
Plenty to choose from
woman looking at hair
What your hair says about your health