I get a lot of questions about my IBS, so here’s the rundown…
What it is: Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a common disorder that affects the large intestine (colon). Irritable bowel syndrome commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation. IBS is a chronic condition that you will need to manage long term.
Even though signs and symptoms are uncomfortable, IBS — unlike ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which are forms of inflammatory bowel disease — doesn’t cause changes in bowel tissue or increase your risk of colorectal cancer.
Only a small number of people with irritable bowel syndrome have severe signs and symptoms. Some people can control their symptoms by managing diet, lifestyle and stress. Others will need medication and counseling. (The Mayo Clinic)
Mine, specifically, is a dysfunction in my digestive system. It is physically sound and has no imperfections. However, it doesn’t know how to function properly. Medications can’t help, they only alleviate symptoms. Instead, I have a strict diet. I can only eat Meats, fruits and veggies (and some sweets). Everything has to be monitored. If I eat too much food, I’ll get sick. Too much sugar…sick. Soda? Sick. Bread, pasta and rice? Sick. So, I am very careful about what I put in my body.
Causes: Unknown. It could be any of a million ways I abused my stomach. Junk food I ate, Diet pills I took, The drugs i took when I was a kid and had scoliosis…maybe the fact that for a whole school year, all I ate at lunch was Fruit Mentos and washed it down with Cherry Pepsi. There aren’t any known causes.
How it feels: Hell. If I had to use one word, that’s it. I can’t eat this, I can’t eat that. My stomach hurts eighty percent of the day, I’m usually constipated (and when I’m not, I have diarrhea), I’m almost always nauseated and I have pretty bad acid reflux and can’t make it go away. Sometimes I have a flare, for no reason. Those days, I throw up everything, even water and stomach acid. That usually lasts about eight hours. Sometimes, a few days. Here and there I’ll cry, because I want it to stop. But, I know it never will. I hate being sick and knowing how limited I am, but I know being angry won’t change it and it is just something I have to accept or face the consequences.
The worst part is how people react. IBS isn’t something that can be proven or seen. So, I hear a lot of “Maybe if you just try…” or “Maybe it’s all in your head.” That’s the part that hurts the most.
The Solution: There isn’t one. This is me. The good news is that I don’t have to work out. The bad news is I’ll never enjoy a bagel again. But, it isn’t something I can change, so I don’t dwell on it. I just enjoy some fruit and watch people kill themselves on treadmills. 😉