Anyone who has or has had Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation (IBS-C) or Chronic Idiopathic Constipation (CIC) will attest that they are hard conditions to live with. Ignoring the symptoms or either of the conditions is not the answer. If you avoid seeking medical attention, you may be facing serious complications that can impact your life in devastating ways.
What is IBS-C or CIC?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation (IBS-C) IBS-C is a condition that is accompanied by constipation, (which refers to bowel movements that are infrequent or hard to pass because the stool is often hard and dry), dull or sharp abdominal pain or cramping. IBS-C sufferers, specifically will strain to efficate and endure manual evacuation of the bowels. On average, IBS-C sufferers reported having episodes of gas, bloating, and abdominal pain on more than 200 times per year.
Chronic constipation without an identifiable cause is often referred to as Chronic Idiopathic Constipation (CIC). CIC includes symptoms of difficult, infrequent or incomplete bowel movements.
For most people who do not have an underlying associated disease, constipation is only a temporary inconvenience following an illness or caused by the secondary effects of medication. Constipation is often easily fixed by drinking more fluids, eating fiber, and exercising. But when you have IBS-C or CIC, constipation is not so easily resolved and becomes a way of life. According to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, IBS (irrespective of subtype) is one of the most common causes of missing work or school, second only to the common cold.
Complications from chronic, untreated constipation may include hemorrhoids, anal fissures or fecal impaction.
- Hemorrhoids: Swollen and inflamed veins which are a result of excessive pushing and straining. Hemorrhoids may also cause rectal bleeding and itching.
- Anal Fissures: Symptoms may include rectal bleeding, itching and pain.
- Fecal Impaction: Due to stool accumulating tightly in your rectum. As a result, you may not be able to evacuate it and you may need to seek medical attention to have the stool manually removed.
- Rectal Prolapse: This condition may cause anal mucus leakage.
Emotional and Mental Health Complications
Having IBS or CIC is not easy and can take an emotional toll and may negatively impact your mental health and overall sense of well-being.
Complications may include:
- Anxiety: Resulting from fear of having a future bout of constipation. These feelings may cause physical symptoms, such as a fast heart rate and shakiness.
- Lower Quality of Life: Due to spending prolonged time in the restroom, embarrassment for having the condition, missing work, etc.
- Depression: Caused by feelings of hopelessness from not improving.
- Agoraphobia: Sets in due to a fear of going to public places due to concerns over not being able to find a bathroom or getting to a bathroom fast enough.
- Isolation: Resulting from withdrawal from family, friends, and coworkers.
Complications both physical and emotional can cause havoc to any IBS-C or CIC sufferer. Do not let them rule your life. Seeking help from a doctor and/or a qualified therapist is the first step in finding the right treatment for you. From medications to lifestyle changes, there are many options that can help you avoid the complications associated with IBS-C and CIC.