Hello and welcome to a very different and rather personal blog post, all about the struggles of IBS and other digestive/bowel related issues.
You may have heard about IBS, it is commonly heard about (as I have personally witnessed) in a joking and humorous manner in the school courtyard with little thought to what it actually is and how it can affect a person's life. It is so easy to be(I know because I used to be) ignorant when hearing about this.
In fact, I have two friends with IBS and I never realised what they were going through until... it happened to me.
I was fairly recently diagnosed with IBS - which stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome - (not to be confused with IBD) despite it going on for quite some time. I was actually putting off going to the doctor's for such a long time because I was embarrassed and thought I was being stupid. (If you are worried about visiting your GP if you have similar issues, please do so anyway, your health is so important).
Some common symptoms of IBS include:
- abdominal (stomach) pain and cramping
- a change in your bowel habits – such as diarrhea, constipation or sometimes both
- bloating and swelling of your stomach
- excessive wind (flatulence)
- occasionally experiencing an urgent need to go to the toilet
- a feeling that you haven't fully emptied your bowels after going to the toilet
If you've looked at that and grimaced, don't worry, so do I. It's really not a pleasant subject to talk about and it is actually very embarrassing for some people. So i'm here to offer an insight of reality and maybe lessen the taboo barrier of 'tummy troubles'.
Let me begin by saying, it's not always funny.
Yes, farts will always be funny, always. But the reality of IBS can be incredibly painful, embarrassing, icky, and downright horrible.
It also varies for every person, it can be caused by a plethora of things such as:
- fatty foods
- increased gut sensitivity
- stress or anxiety
- other foods which can affect it
In my case, I have noticed that when I am stressed, my IBS symptoms are THROUGH THE ROOF!!! Which is really, really unhelpful and unpleasant in times of stress. It can become a vicious cycle of stress, flare ups, shame, stress flare ups and shame and on and on. I especially struggled through exam season which wasn't fun :(
I also notice that bloating is heavily related to my food intake (as you'd expect), but not in a distinct way. I am still yet to establish the direct causes of my bloating and which certain foods are causing it.
However, I have made some brilliant changes to my diet which are really helping!
- Drinking more water (especially lemon water)
- Eating more fruits and vegetables
- Eating less starchy and stodgy foods
- Stopping eating when I begin to feel bloated
Doing these simple things and focusing equally on your mental health can have a big impact on how your tummy reacts. If ever I got a tummy ache when I was younger and I didn't know why, i'd tell my mum. She'd always ask "Are you worried about something", the answer was usually 'yes'.
Small things such as getting to sleep earlier, beginning your day with a glass of water, having a stress relief and eating more greens can make a difference when it all adds up!
I hope this has maybe given you an idea of what IBS is like, opened your mind to talking about it more, and helped you gain some new healthy habits to please your tummy.
Lot's of love as always,
Your fellow IBS friend - Siana xxx
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