Panic often sets in when a person’s IBS flare seems to be going on and on without any let-up.

“IBS flares last for different periods of time in different patients,” explains Dr. Brian Lacy, MD, of Dartmouth Hitchcock Med Center, who specializes in functional disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and is author of “Making Sense of IBS.”

“Most patients have their own usual pattern,” continues Dr. Lacy. “Some flares may last just a few days; others may last weeks at a time.

“Each flare also differs from patient to patient regarding the type of symptoms.

“In some patients, a flare is characterized by disabling abdominal cramps.

“In others a flare may be urgent diarrhea that lasts days at a time, while in others a flare is characterized by bloating and distension.”

Triggers of IBS Flare-ups

“The cause of these intermittent flares is not known and again, usually differs from patient to patient,” says Dr. Lacy.

In some patients a flare can be triggered by a change in diet (too many fruits and vegetables; too much fiber; too much added fructose or lactose), a change in routine or a change in medications (either over-the-counter or prescription).

“In others a flare can result from travel, an infection or the use of antibiotics. And in others, a cause can never be identified. In some patients stress (socially, professionally, at home) can trigger a flare.”

So the bottom line in all of this is that the length of an IBS flare is not indicative of any seriousness going on inside your body.

Other than the annoyance or even disruption of day-to-day activities, a long flare of irritable bowel syndrome is absolutely nothing to worry about – from a medical standpoint.

Of course, worrying about the potential embarrassment of a long flare-up is to be expected.

For those suffering from IBS-C/CIC, you may want to try LINZESS®, and for IBS-D, you should try Viberzi®, as these are very effective medications recommended by Dr. Lacy.

Dr. Lacy combines his love of science, medicine and people to uncover the causes of symptoms like stomach pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and regurgitation. 
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


Top image: Shutterstock/Emily frost