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What it's like to have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Having found out she had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) at 26, one Spabreaker shares her story about how she came to a diagnosis and what she’s doing to try to manage it.

I found out I had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)…

…just recently, at the age of 26. Although it is something I have suffered with for many years, it had gone undiagnosed, which is fairly odd as it is actually becoming more common. I was initially told that I was probably intolerant to something and to keep a food diary, but there has never been one main trigger for me and keeping a food diary only highlighted that further.

My IBS symptoms were…

…mainly severe bloating and stomach pain. I experience a lot of discomfort from the minute I eat or drink anything.  I suffer from bloating daily but some days are worse than others, and on a bad day I really struggle with sharp stomach pain, cramping, and embarrassing gassiness. They say on the main symptoms that you can suffer with are diarrhea or constipation, for me during flare ups I am not able to go to the toilet, which only enhances the bloating further and as a result becomes extremely uncomfortable and often lasts for days at a time.

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The impact of IBS on my daily life is…

…I have had to adapt my style and wear much looser clothing - I am forever in swing dresses as they hide my tummy and make me feel less restricted, as over the course of the day it worsens and I basically look pregnant 80% of the time.  Being out in public when suffering with the gas side of things is obviously highly embarrassing, so I am always on the lookout for toilet stops.  It has become so much more common, but as a girl it is hard to talk about it as it is sensitive and embarrassing and it’s not something you want people to think of about you. So, although we are all more aware of it, I feel like it isn’t actually talked about that much.

The biggest obstacles with IBS are…

… not really having a main trigger. Everything and anything sets it off for me. I am also a natural worrier and stress can be key factor in flare ups, so I find that difficult as I do see and experience the flare ups when I am more stressed, which only makes me more stressed… it’s a vicious cycle.  

I have been Googling nonstop to find something that can help decrease the daily symptoms, but I have found that so many websites conflict and it can vary from person to person, so finding what works for me is going to take time! It will all be trial and error.

However, I have cut down on fizzy drinks - I used to drink Red Bull and Diet Coke pretty much every day and cutting down on those has certainly helped. I have already seen a change - it’s only small at this stage, but better, which is always a good thing.

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People can help support people with IBS by…

…I think we can all help so much by being more open and sharing what works individually to increase the support for those also living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It gives others ideas about what try and test, and make people less embarrassed to talk about it.

The thing that makes me feel on top of the world is…

…having a nice hot bath with bubbles and candles to de-stress at the end of the day, wearing my cosy (and baggy) PJs! This is the time of the day I feel the least bloated and can actually shut off from worrying about it!

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