Urgency is the sudden, desperate need to go to the toilet. It is particularly common in people with ‘irritable’ bowels, because the rectum is more sensitive to swelling. If the sphincter is weak, this may cause incontinence. For many IBS sufferers, this is often the most distressing aspect of IBS.
What causes Urgency?
The feeling of needing to go to the toilet suddenly, rather than just more often, is common in IBS but there may be many reasons why this occurs.
It is possible IBS sufferers have a hypersensitive gut and rectum so feel an urgency to go to the toilet more pronounced than your average person would feel.
Sufferers may be more aware of the need to go to the toilet which will naturally make a person feel more anxious. Anxiety could then make the situation worse.
There could also be a more functional issue evident such as sphincters in the rectum not working as they should. If the sphincter is weakened through time or not working properly, urgency or incontinence may be a result.
The most common cause of sphincter weakness is damage to the pelvic floor sustained during childbirth. Whilst mild sphincter weakness may be of relatively little consequence in somebody whose bowel habit is regular, but in a person who has IBS the issue is exacerbated.
What are the treatments for Urgency?
You may need to try different treatments to help overcome Urgency.
- Treating Diarrhea in the first instance may help. Taking Loperamide in the short term could help give you confidence, especially in social situations. The NHS recommends that people shouldn’t take Loperamide for more than 48 hours without speaking to their Doctor.
- Some sufferers find that an anal plug can help in social situations to reduce anxiety.
- It is easy to say, but try and Keep calm. Stress can have an adverse effect on your situation. Perhaps practice breathing exercises to calm your whole body down.
- You may want to try and “train your bowels”. If you run to toilet at the first twinge of needing, you may be training your bowels and mind to become over-responsive. Try sitting calmly when faced with a desire to go (might be a good time to practise your breathing exercises) to see if this helps the desire to pass.
- Mast cells could be playing a role in your Urgency associated with your IBS. Read more information on what Mast Cells are and why we believe our IBS Advanced Formula + could stabilise mast cells and provide longer term relief to your IBS.
- You may also find The Great British Public Toilet Map useful as it shows toilets that the public can use. This includes those in places such as shops and cafes who choose to let non-customers use their toilets.