Loose bowel movements can be a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome, but constipation is also a possible symptom of the condition, notes Mayo Clinic. Bowel movements also can alternate between diarrhea and constipation in some people. Other common symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome are gas, mucus in the stool, bloating and abdominal pain.
Most patients with irritable bowel syndrome experience several of these common symptoms for at least six months, explains WebMD. They also have stomach pain for at least three days a month for three days. People with irritable bowel syndrome often find that this pain stops after they have a bowel movement, or that the pain ebbs with changes in the stool or with changes in the frequency of bowel movements.
Some people with irritable bowel syndrome also have symptoms that do not affect the digestive system, according to WebMD. These symptoms include headaches, fatigue, changes in urination, pain during sex and decreased sexual desire, as well as anxiety or depression, backaches, a strange taste in the mouth and insomnia.
Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms may appear during stressful times, after a meal or when menstruating, notes WebMD. People who experience typical symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome should see a doctor to discuss their symptoms and screen for alternative diagnoses, such as colon cancer, advises Mayo Clinic.