August 15, 2019
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Patients with IBS-D, IBS-C find their lives impacted in different ways

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Although patients with diarrhea- and constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome tend to find their condition equally bothersome, they find their lives impacted in different ways, according to survey results.

Sarah Ballou, PhD, of the division of gastroenterology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and colleagues wrote that the impact of IBS on patients’ work lives is well-documented, but only a few small studies have looked at its impact on social interaction and daily living.

“Many studies have documented decreased quality of life, elevated rates of psychological comorbidities and high economic costs associated with IBS,” they wrote. “No study to date has compared impairment of specific daily activities in IBS subtypes using a large, nationwide sample of individuals in the community with IBS-C and IBS-D.”

Researchers used data collected from The Life with IBS survey to compare the effects of the different subtypes of IBS on different areas of life. Individuals who responded to the survey all met Rome II criteria for either IBS-C (n = 1,667) or IBS-D (n = 1,587).

Patients in both groups who were either working or in school reported similar impact on their productivity (average 8 days per month) and absenteeism, with patients with IBS-C missing an average of 1.7 days per month compared with 1.3 days among patients with IBS-D.

Investigators found that patients with IBS-C were more likely to report that they had more difficulty concentrating, felt self-conscious and avoided sex because of their condition. Patients with IBS-D were more likely to report that they avoid making plans, traveling, leaving home and going to places without bathrooms.

Ballou and colleagues wrote that the results show that patients with IBS-D are more likely to avoid specific activities because of increased bowel activity or frequency, while physiological and psychological factors likely lead to avoidance of physical intimacy among patients with IBS-C.

The survey also included a hypothetical question that asked patients what they would exchange for 1 month of symptom relief. More than half reported that they would give up caffeine or alcohol, nearly a quarter said they would give up their cell phone, about 20% would give up the internet for a month and 40% reported that they would give up sex.

“This study highlights important differences between IBS-C and IBS-D, which could impact the development and refinement of mind-body therapies for IBS, with tailored treatment goals for each IBS subtype,” Ballou and colleagues wrote. “For example, treatment tailored specifically for IBS-D may be more behaviorally focused, while treatment for IBS-C may be more cognitively focused in addition to targeting the bowel dysfunction and pain.” by Alex Young

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.