When it comes to number twos, there is surprisingly large variation in what might be considered ‘normal’. In fact one individual’s ‘normal’ is often very different to another’s, even if they are healthy, live in the same household, eat the same food and are part of the same family.
An IBS diagnosis can be further broken down into sub-types, depending on whether constipation, diarrhoea, neither or both is the main bowel symptom.
- Diarrhoea predominate IBS (IBS-D): when more than 1 in 4 bowel movements is Bristol stool form type 6 or 7 (watery, mushy stools) and less than 1 in 4 stools is classified as type 1 or 2 (small, hard and difficult to pass stools).(1)
- IBS with mixed bowel habits (IBS-M): when more than 1 in 4 bowel movements with Bristol stool form types 1 or 2 (small, hard and difficult to pass stools) and more than 1 in 4 bowel movements with Bristol stool form types 6 or 7 (watery, mushy stools).(1)
- IBS unclassified (IBS-U): when patients meet diagnostic criteria for IBS but their bowel habits do not meet any of the above IBS classifications.(1)
It’s OK if –
·You don’t use your bowels every day, but when you do your stools are comfortable and easy to pass
·Your stools look like a type 1 or 2 but they are comfortable and easy to pass
·Your stools feel ‘a little loose’ but are comfortable to pass, you have no other concerning symptoms and you don’t need to hurry to get to the toilet in time!
Speak to your GP, gastroenterologist or dietitian if–
·You stools continue to be hard and difficult to pass, causing pain and discomfort
·Your stools continue to be watery, meaning that you need to hurry to the toilet to make it in time (this may or may not be accompanied by other symptoms like abdominal pain or cramping)
·You notice blood in your stools
·You have any ongoing concerns regarding your bowel movements or other symptoms
Looking for more strategies to assist with ongoing constipation or diarrhoea? Check out our past blogs on these topics: