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My Life: in my 70's with IBS-D and overactive bladder


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I am in my seventies and have suffered from IBS on and off throughout my adult life. It began by affecting my bladder, making having to pee extremely urgent at time. Sometimes the urge would become uncontrollable and I would wet myself. Eventually I was referred to a specialist in urology who prescribed Solefenacin tablets, one a day. These have helped enormously in enabling me to hold back the pee until I could find a toilet, and I haven't had any 'accidents' since.

However, of late my IBS has switched to producing very wet diarrhea, also with an uncontrollable aspect. A typical occurrence would take the form of a build-up of extremely painful trapped wind (gas) within an hour after eating. This reaches a point where the pain is unbearable and the only way to stop it is with a bout of projectile diarrhea. Bad enough when I can get to a toilet, but over the last couple of months there have been 3 occasions when it just started and couldn't be stopped. The first couple of times were in public but luckily with few people around, and I was able to drop my shorts and do it against a wall in the street without being seen. Carrying a generous wad of toilet paper around had become normal practice, so I was able to clean myself up until a toilet could be reached. The third time, last night, was in a busy street and resulted in soiling my pants. My wife was able to cover the car seat with plastic bags and drive us home, but the experience was harrowing, to say the least.

Has anyone else had this condition? Is there any medication that will prevent it? I am in the UK and doctors here don't seem to have anything to offer.

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Jeffrey Roberts

Dear PeteM,

I'm sorry for all the discomfort you have had from your bladder and colon. Given your age, I worry that the sudden change in your stool to very wet diarrhea could be something besides IBS-diarrhea. If you have spoken to doctors and are convinced that it is IBS-D related, then I would speak to them about trying cholestyramine or ondansetron to manage the urgent diarrhea. Cholestyramine is a powder you mix with water and take daily. It can produce gas, but may help with the diarrhea. Ondansetron 4-8mg daily might also help. I don't recommend taking both cholestyramine and ondansetron together as it may be very constipating and then you would have a new serious problem.

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