Irritable bowel syndrome.
It’s one of those things people whisper.
Almost like its something to be ashamed of.
Nobody likes talking about poo. The only time any of us really does is when we have babies , then we tend to often over share what was in their nappies.
It’s estimated that 1 in 5 people have IBS at any one time.
The most common symptoms are diarrhoea , constipation , abdominal pains and bloating.
It’s more common in women. In the uk approx 13 % of women are affected and 5 % of men .
The cause is not known but many people date the start of symptoms to a major point in their life and many date it to an acute gastroenteritis.
IBS does not cause cancer.
As well as the discomfort , pain , bloating and the inconvenience it causes to the everyday lives of sufferers it can also cause depression and anxiety.
The stress of living with IBS can really take its toll.
Many people are embarrassed to seek medical advice , bowel movements are never the most comfortable thing to discuss , but it’s important to do so.
As well as ruling out anything else once you are diagnosed your gp can help you to cope with IBS.
There is medication available , I take an anti spasmodic medication before every meal , yes I have IBS.
And the gp can help you to pinpoint a trigger. Quite often it can be triggered by something you are eating , so writing a food diary can help you to notice a pattern and eliminate things that trigger symptoms.
It can also be triggered by stress.
Mine is definitely triggered by stress and anxiety.
If stress and anxiety are triggers your gp may be able to help with that and also if your IBS is causing you anxiety and depression your gp will be able to help with that.
There’s nothing to be embarrassed about when talking to your gp. They are used to talking about these things.
It can affect your daily life because for example you may be anxious about going out in case you need the loo while you are out. You can ease the worry by mapping out ( decent) toilets where you will be and also by telling the people you are going with beforehand , much easier than finding excuses to pop off for a moment.
Eating out can be tricky.
I get quite ill every time I eat out.
It just doesn’t agree with me.
If I do eat out ( it happens , not ALOT but it does ) I try not to eat too much , to get something a bit plain , and to steer clear of rich puddings.
If you are worried about not eating the same as everyone else , explain first. You don’t need to go into great detail. You don’t even have to say you have IBS just say you are watching what you eat.
And enjoy your meal.
I have days when I just can’t eat , even longer sometimes …. So when I can eat I try to make sure I eat well. Get the goodness in when I can. I’m actually always really hungry on good days.
And when Im tired and drained and really not feeling good I give in to the joy of napping.
Rest when you can. Everything is a little easier when you are rested.
My IBS symptoms began at the same time as my psoriatic arthritis symptoms , and I also have microcytosis which means my blood cells are unusually small
So I’m pretty sure theres a link there , ( not a medical opinion , just mine) I’ve had an endoscopy , a million blood tests to rule anything else out and now I’m on medication , which has made life much easier and I know that stress makes it worse. Knowing this helps to stop me panicking that there is anything terribly wrong when I have a flare up. I try to avoid stress , not very easy , but offloading my stress onto my parent support worker and our youth support worker and allowing them to deal with things for me when they can is a big help.
If you have or think you have IBS seek medical advice
don’t be embarrassed to talk about it
take care of yourself , eat well when you can and rest.