Signs & Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Constipation (IBS-C) and Chronic Idiopathic Constipation (CIC)

If you suffer from constipation (having less than 3 bowel movements each week and/or having trouble passing stools) and other symptoms like gas pain, bloating, or abdominal discomfort, you are not alone.

As many as 2 in 10 adults in the U.S. suffer from symptoms of IBS-C or CIC.

These symptoms may be caused by a disorder such as IBS‑C or CIC. The symptoms of these disorders are very similar and can overlap.

What's the difference?

Defining IBS-C and CIC

IBS-C and CIC share many symptoms.

Irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS‑C) is one of three major subtypes of IBS. IBS is a functional GI disorder defined as abdominal pain or discomfort that occurs along with altered bowel habits. There are three subtypes: IBS with constipation (IBS‑C), IBS with diarrhea (IBS‑D), and mixed IBS (IBS‑M) where there is both constipation and diarrhea.

IBS-C is a common disorder that may affect up to 13 million adults in the U.S.

IBS-C is defined by these symptoms when they can't be explained by another disease, condition, or side effect of a medication:

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort that occurs at least 3 days a month for at least 3 months and is improved by having a bowel movement and/or comes along with changes in the frequency or appearance of bowel movements
  • Hard or lumpy stool at least 25% of the time
  • Loose or watery stool less than 25% of the time
  • You may also experience:
    • Bloating
    • Gas Pain
    • Straining when having a bowel movement

Chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC) is even more common, affecting as many as 35 million adults in the U.S. "Chronic" means that the symptoms occur frequently over a long period of time (more than 3 months) and "idiopathic" means the constipation arises from an unknown cause and can't be attributed to medication or an underlying illness.

The symptoms of CIC may include:

  • Infrequent stools (having a bowel movement less than 3 times a week)
  • Difficulty passing stools, including:
    • Straining to have a bowel movement
    • Not completely emptying bowels after a movement
    • Hard or lumpy stools
  • Gas pain
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Bloating
Facts & Statistics on

When it comes to IBS-C and CIC, there's a lot to know. Check out some facts and statistics about these common—but often overlooked—disorders.


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