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Managing Constipation With IBS

Last updated: October 2022

As I've mentioned in previous articles, I tend to be within the range of IBS-M, with a little diarrhea here and a little constipation there. My IBS symptoms mainly focus on flare-ups, irritation, cramping, bloating, and soft stools that don't necessarily mean diarrhea. However, sometimes, it goes to one extreme.

Constipation

Earlier this year, I had been severely constipated. This is frustrating enough on a good day, but especially as Passover was approaching, I was quite concerned for my own well-being. Passover is an 8-day Jewish holiday, where you consume no bread products or legumes, depending on where your ancestors are from. So, you consume considerably less fiber than you should, resulting in the inevitability of constipation after the holiday. So, I needed to go to extremes to ensure I was cleared and ready to consume the food. A couple of years ago, I was so severely bloated after Passover that I panicked about being pregnant (I am currently not ready for that step in my life).

Attempting to treat constipation

I took Metamucil, as well as drank lemon water and coffee, and consumed a bunch of spinach. Though I felt better, I still woke up in the morning feeling constipated. Then, I took Dulcolax, a drug that contains bisacodyl (a laxative that forces the user's body to pass bowel movements). My mother, who does not have IBS, takes Dulcolax whenever she needs a "clean-out" or before a colonoscopy. So, she suggested I take it. I carefully took one pill with some water.

A couple of hours later, I was suddenly overwhelmed with nausea and cold sweats. I have had this reaction before when I've had severe IBS flare-ups. Now, I know to get myself a glass of water, an icepack, or a bag of frozen vegetables, and I also remove all my clothes while on the toilet. I also managed to throw some electrolyte tablets into a glass of water and grab an icepack before urgently rushing to the washroom.

Stress

This felt like one of my red-alert danger moments as my symptoms quickly shifted into severe nausea and cold sweats. Panic and anxiety can also sometimes set in when my body reacts this badly. My thoughts go immediately to "is this how I die?" Evidently, I am perfectly fine. I could drink the water, push through the bowel movements, and have my regular temperature return to me. I am severely thankful I didn't take two pills (which is allowed).

Reflections

This all being said, I am feeling a lot better, even though it was a little scary to go through those severe symptoms.

Another thing to note is that I am terrible at drinking water. I definitely need to improve it because it will alleviate symptoms of constipation and diarrhea. It also may have helped me drink more water this morning to better prepare me for what was coming. It is just something I need to think about more actively.

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