Patients With IBS Report Worsening Constipation Symptoms Amid Pandemic

Individuals with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation indicated that although their symptoms worsened during the pandemic, they did not seek medical care.

More than a third of individuals with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C) reported symptom worsening amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new survey results.

The findings were discussed during a poster presentation at the Digestive Disease Week (DDW) 2021 virtual meeting, which was held May 22-25, 2021.

An online general health survey was conducted among 130 adults with IBS-C from August through October 2020. More than a third of survey respondents indicated their symptoms had worsened during the pandemic; however, nearly half (46%) reported that they did not seek care from a health care provider. Additionally, nearly a quarter of respondents responded that they canceled health care visits due to the pandemic.

The results also showed that patients with IBS-C experienced a significantly higher proportion of mental health effects, such as moderate-to-severe anxiety and depression, as well as significantly lower health-related quality of life (HRQoL) than those without IBS-C. Most respondents indicated that they were taking an OTC medication for their IBS-C symptoms, whereas 25% reported currently taking a prescription medication.

Overall, the most bothersome symptoms in the past 7 days for respondents included abdominal discomfort, abdominal pain, straining, abdominal bloating, and incomplete bowel movements

“As a physician, my biggest takeaway from this survey is that while IBS-C patients’ symptoms have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are unfortunately not speaking with their doctors, and hence the disease continues to have a wide impact despite the availability of prescription treatment options,” said Brian E. Lacy, PhD, MD, Gastroenterology, Neurogastroenterology, the Mayo Clinic, said in a statement.

Pharmacists can assist patients who may be experiencing worsened symptoms by offering recommendations for symptom management or encouraging them to reach out to their physicians. As one of the most accessible health care providers, pharmacists can identify patients who may be frequently purchasing OTC therapies and offer to counsel.

“It is critical for patients to recognize they have a legitimate medical condition that needs treatment and to take that step of speaking with their physician–either in person or through a telehealth appointment,” Lacy said.

Reference

1. More Than a Third of Surveyed IBS-C Patients Reported That Their Symptoms Worsened During COVID-19, According to New Survey Findings Presented by Ironwood Pharmaceuticals at Digestive Disease Week (DDW). News Release. Business Wire; May 24, 2021. Accessed May 25, 2021. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210524005112/en/More-Than-a-Third-of-Surveyed-IBS-C-Patients-Reported-That-Their-Symptoms-Worsened-During-COVID-19-According-to-New-Survey-Findings-Presented-by-Ironwood-Pharmaceuticals-at-Digestive-Disease-Week%C2%AE-DDW