Group of unhappy people

Do IBS Sufferers Complain Too Much?

When IBS sufferers attempt to describe their symptoms, some people tend to think they’re over-exaggerating about normal things that everyone else goes through occasionally. To them, anyone who has ever experienced a stomach bug, or the flu, knows what a little stomach pain, constipation, and/or diarrhea feels like. So, what’s the difference, right? However, what people without irritable bowel syndrome fail to realize is that they do not experience the pain from those symptoms like people with IBS do. The pain many of us experience can be very frequent and taxing on our bodies, making it hard to function in normal life. Simple things like doing the dishes, spending time with family, or being productive at work or school can become daunting. The unfortunate truth for many of us with IBS is that we can experience the normal activity in our guts at a very intense level. For example, a gas bubble can stop me dead in my tracks and make me hold on to something for balance because the pain feels so intense. This sensation is known as visceral hypersensitivity. To some without IBS, it may sound like I’m “over-exaggerating” but simply because my gut is oversensitive, it’s a biological response I cannot avoid.

They’re not just excuses

Some people also think IBS sufferers just come up with excuses to be lazy. What they fail to realize is that we have very valid reasons for us to relax and recuperate more often in order to be able to go back out into the world and function with some efficiency. It’s unfortunate that some people demean or belittle what they don’t understand or deal with themselves. Some think everyone should have a certain tolerance for pain and should be able to push through no matter what. There are only so many circumstances those of us with IBS can push ourselves, especially depending on the severity of our condition. And let me remind some of you, what is one person’s experience with a condition, may not necessarily be the same for another who is dealing with the same condition. Everyone, in my opinion, experiences pain and the circumstances it comes with differently.

I have personally dealt with several medical doctors who don’t believe irritable bowel syndrome is a “big deal”. There were times when certain doctors would make me feel like I’m complaining, and would say things like, “You’re a big boy. You can handle it.” And before I knew any better, I used to believe them. They would tell me to change my diet, prescribe me medication, and recommend I continue with my normal life. And guess what? I would try. And even though their recommendations didn’t improve any of my symptoms, I still took their advice because I was conditioned to think that doctors would always know what’s best for me. I also felt, as a young and naïve adult growing up, that I should let doctors be solely responsible for my health. Needless to say, I finally “woke up” one day and decided to take responsibility for my health, which I have expressed how in past articles.

Take us seriously

The point I am trying to emphasize is that people with IBS still do not get taken seriously because many of us get told that we’re “complaining too much” about normal things. I don’t think it’s normal to be very depressed because you feel like you have no control over your life. I don’t think it’s normal to use the toilet more than 5 times a day, or not use the toilet at all for more than three days. I don’t think it’s normal to get woken up out of a deep sleep in excruciating pain because a gas bubble feels like a knife is slicing your insides. IBS is a condition that can take a huge toll on many different areas of a person’s life. So, if complaining is what it sounds like when we express our pain, then that’s what it shall be to some. And as much as I like to preach about positivity, I still think it’s important to depict and stress how this condition can negatively affect a person’s quality of life, so that we can be taken even more seriously some day.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


View Comments (6)
  • JudyStaed
    1 week ago

    Thank you so much for this article. It is very validating to we, the people out here, who suffer with chronic IBS. My symptoms are daily and only worsen through the years. What is most difficult is that this is truly a debilitating condition that is almost impossible to explain to someone who has not experienced it. Sometimes when you try to describe it a person will say, “Oh, yeah. I get trapped gas too.” However, they say this in a dismissive fashion as if…sure…go ahead and complain…you’re just being a baby about what we all feel. This kind of treatment from others can definitely lead to feelings of isolation and then depression. I am terrified of trying to make plans because I never know what each new day is going to bring. Will it be worse? Will it be one of my really bad days? Will this day be one of the days where I can somewhat function? We people who suffer with IBS are not just whining or complaining. We are coping. We must be strong because this condition was certainly not asked for in our lives and we must deal with it. We must be warriors. We must get through every day and every challenge. And…for the most part we do.

  • Hannah Noonan moderator
    1 week ago

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and approach to dealing with IBS with us @judystaed, you really have a way with words!

  • Hannah Noonan moderator
    1 week ago

    I love that @judystaed, we must be warriors! I have felt isolated too and found it hard to make plans and often people just don’t understand what we’re going through. But I love hearing people’s stories, like yours and Hess’s because it helps remind me that we’re not alone in this. Thanks for taking the time to share your story, we all appreciate it! – Hannah ( Team)

  • JudyStaed
    5 days ago

    Hannah Noonan and Marci Kallick, thank you so much for your thoughts and comments on my words. Marci, I found your comment about the Mindful Meditation interesting. I believe in general that is what I try to do even though I didn’t know there was a name for it. Today I just want to get a message out to anyone with IBS who suffers with terrible and painful trapped gas. This is also one of my issues and I’ve asked myself over and over again why it is so hard to pass. Still there are other times when it will just slip out when I’m in public and that is VERY embarrassing. I also have the gas rise into my chest causing intense pain that can go all the way up to my teeth. It can be sudden and very debilitating. I use activated charcoal tablets when this hits me. They are fast and much more effective than the charcoal capsules. I have to buy mine online these days but have found a company called Charcoal House that I buy from. I never leave my home without my charcoal tablets and water with me. This is just one of my coping tools that I wanted to pass along to others who may not be aware of method to help trapped gas.

  • JudyStaed
    1 week ago

    Thank you, Hannah. I read the articles in this group and simultaneously I identify with and yet at the same time feel so sad for the people who must go through what I do. My issues are abundant and multi level meaning I also suffer with upper track digestive issues. The worst, though, are the colon attacks when the pain is so bad and yet I have to wait and pray that I will just go to the bathroom. For all these reasons I have a motto in life that I try to adhere to and it is…reach for the good. No matter how bad the suffering has been in any day try to reach for that one minute of good whether it is pausing to look at a beautiful sunset, seeing the beauty of sun glancing off freshly fallen snow, or a flower newly bloomed in spring. Pull good into your being. I wrote a poem on Jan. 1st of this year. It is titled Reach For The Good. I truly believe in this.

  • Marci Kallick moderator
    6 days ago


    @hannah-noonan is right, you do have a way with words. 🙂 It’s so true…we can experience such difficult moments; moments that seem to go on longer than we think we can bear. However, if we can focus our attention to recognize and appreciate those good moments (like you mentioned), it allows us to get through the tougher ones with strength and knowledge that all moments are not like this one. When Mindful Meditation was used in a Boston hospital for cancer patients…the patients were able to handle their pain levels better. The reason for this is because they worked on being present and accepting things in that moment. They were able to recognize and appreciate when their pain shifted, however slight…and knew that the pain would not be constant. Like waves in the ocean…it would ebb and flow, and as such, pain has waves too. Thank you again for sharing your words of encouragement.


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