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General IBS questions

Hi everyone, new here! Wanted to come and join a community to discuss this awful thing with. Would be interested to learn people's stories and how their IBS started. In truth my Drs probably shouldn't have diagnosed me with IBS as easily as they did, but here we are. Because I've never lost weight, had blood in my stools or severe pain that a bowel movement wouldn't remove, they've always said IBS. They did give me a test a couple years ago to see whether I have inflammation, came back very normal. Also been tested for Coeliac disease, normal results. Currently awaiting test results for a second inflammation stool check and H pylori, mainly to ease my anxiety. Ah yes, I have an anxiety disorder as well!

My regular symptoms are -

- Daily loose stool, very smelly 😂(usually once or twice a day)
- Gas build up
- Random aches and sharp pains
- Sometimes I get a really intense sharp pain at the bottom of my abdomen.
which is relieved with a bowel movement.
- Mucus in my stool. Sometimes none, sometimes little, sometimes a lot.

My symptoms of IBS go back as long as 23 years ago, when I was 8. My first memory of dealing with any kind of loose bowel issue is when I was at school. Every morning I would be so scared to go in because I hated my teacher and a lot of the students, this would have me rushing to the bathroom for a very nervous poo. This was basically what I lived with for about 14 years. At 21/22 my symptoms for the first time started getting worse. Noticed I was getting loose stools everytime I went to the bathroom, but not much pain or anything. The symptoms I suffer with now started about 3 years ago, I've not got anymore since, but it is more regular. The only trigger I know of is caffeine.

So yeah, that's my IBS story/journey! Hi ☺️

  1. That must have been very tough for you to deal with especially as a child and teenager. It must have felt awful for you at just 8 years old.

    You say caffeine is one of your main triggers. Yes, that make sense, as caffeine does speed up gut contractions. Yet I have IBS D and only on one or two occasions caffeine has given me a bad tummy in the morning, Usually I'm fine with a little (such as one weak-ish black coffee, or a black China tea)
    Caffeine could also exaggerate the body's stress responses. Is stress a major trigger for you too? If so, then that might be your angle to help you: find any ways or methods to handle the effect stress has on you. There are all sorts of methods.

    I always had a pretty good gut and could eat all sorts of lovely healthy foods and had a brilliant diet for about 40 years!. Then in 2018 I had one bout of unusual tummy trouble which followed on from feeling weird, unwell, and everything for a couple of weeks, but the doctor couldn't find anything wrong with me or my blood tests, and it was not like a stomach virus at all. So I had about 9 days of an upset gut. Then it went away.

    It came back in 2020 a few weeks before I caught Covid in the Spring. Strange, because when I had Covid and for about 6-8 weeks after recovery my gut was normal and fine. It came back though that summer and set in and I've had it ever since. Though I do get periods of being completely normal! Sometimes just days, and sometimes weeks on end!

    I haven't been able to trace any particular triggers for my IBS. Many times I can eat a certain food and be okay, and the same for weeks, then one time I will eat it and have an upset gut the next morning.

    But many of my flare ups just hit me out of the blue with no warning and no particular logic to them.

    Have you tried the Low Fodmap diet? It can help to find out which foods may upset you. You really need to do that with a dietician though. It's rather complex.

    1. Hi and welcome to our community! I'm so sorry that you've been dealing with these issues for so long. I can relate a lot actually. I wasn't diagnosed with IBS until my early 20s, but I always had a 'nervous stomach' when I was little and threw up very regularly before or even in school. Or before travelling. Always before exams. Just like you, my symptoms got so much worse later and transformed into IBS-D.
      I can only speak for myself, but it took me years to realize that I had been dealing with anxiety ever since I was little and that my digestive issues were caused by that. Even now with IBS, I feel like it's just a new way for my anxiety to manifest itself, even when I don't even know that I'm anxious... Of course, I still also get triggered by foods, but I can eat almost anything when I'm feeling calm and only rice and chicken (or nothing at all) when I'm anxious.
      Do you currently do anything to manage your anxiety?
      Sending hugs, Karina (team member)

      1. I wish I had figured things out earlier in life and looking back I know this started many years ago - not so much as a child but definitely as a late teen and early adult. I think I noticed the anxiety earlier and had panic attacks in my early to mid 20's and that kind of started the ball rolling. No one talked much about gut issues let along bowel problems and really mental health was quite a stigma as well. I remember as I got older that it seemed like people started talking a bit more and it is only really the last 10 years or maybe a bit more that people opened up about mental health issues and I think even more recently about issues with the guy and bowels. I don't exactly go out and brag but if someone mentions IBS at least I know what they are talking about and know someone who can relate. The world is changing as as someone said years ago we are as sick as we are secretive and this is something we all need to be willing to share about. I love reading the articles and feel less alone anymore. I used to think I was about the only one that had the troubles we discuss. So glad this group is here

        1. It must have been so hard to go through the anxiety and panic attacks and then gut issues without being able to talk about it, or connect with others who have the same issues. It's still hard now, but at least we know that we're not alone. Thanks so much for being part of this community! Karina (team member)

      2. Wow thank you all for the replies. I'm so sorry it has taken so long to get back to you, been a hectic couple of weeks. It's crazy reading through to find what we all have in common, anxiety! I've read online about the gut and stomach relationship so it all makes sense, I think our brains must somehow rewire how our guts work. I've actually had a really good week or so with my stomach, little to no pain and doing much better in terms of how/when I'm needing the toilet. I cut caffeine out completely, which has seemed to change a lot for me. Not gone away entirely, but definitely better than it was.

        1. I'm so glad to hear that you had a good week and your IBS is better without the caffeine!
          Anxiety really seems to be a common factor for many people here. We actually have several articles about the brain-gut connection and how to help with its effects. I'm going to link them here in case you're interested: https://irritablebowelsyndrome.net/living/mind-body-impact-ibs, https://irritablebowelsyndrome.net/living/gut-brain-connection. Wishing you all the best, Karina (team member)

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