Coping with IBS Symptoms at Work

We all know that living with IBS is not easy. For some, this condition can be worse than for others. Many people feel that their social life is impacted, as well as normal activities and even their family life. Also, let’s not forget the very important work life and the profound impairment it causes when your job and performance is affected by your symptoms or your symptoms are caused by work related stress (it’s not completely clear which one comes first).1

At work my symptoms seemed worst

I am currently working from home, but I remember those days in the office, the bloating and gurgling noises in my bowels and the rush to go to the bathroom, sometimes in the middle of a conversation with my manager or colleagues, or even during meetings. In fact, it seemed like my IBS-D symptoms were worst when I was at work, than at home.

Looking back, this may have been caused by a few different things, the first one was the stress of work, due to excessive workload, strict deadlines, pressure to deliver, all the meetings to attend, etc. All of those often gave me an overwhelming feeling, which translated in bloating, gas, diarrhea. I also believe that eating at the desk, while working was not one of the best habit for my symptoms.

Although I was not aware that my issues were due to IBS, I could feel that something was not right with me. At the time, I didn’t realize that my diet was a big trigger for those physical manifestations, and most days I would eat lunch at my desk, and never get up for a walk. Most meals included food such as grains, vegetable and pulses of all kind, and those would have definitely had an impact. Nowadays, I try to spend a few minutes walking after eating, outdoor if possible, ideally looking at the beautiful nature and enjoy the daylight for a few minutes.

Living with IBS is no longer stopping me from living my life

These days I believe I have more control on my symptoms and on my life; I no longer feel that I need to exclude myself from enjoying parties and other social gathering that involve food or even hiding that I suffer from this gastrointestinal issue.
And because I am a ‘glass-half-full’ sort of person, I am grateful that it is IBS and not IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) or Celiac disease. I’m not saying this to undermine the issues and the symptoms caused by IBS, but at least IBS does not cause inflammation, bleeding, ulcers or other damage to the intestine.2

I can’t deny that I am very fortunate, as both my close family and friends understand that IBS is not a made-up condition, it’s not ‘all in my head’, so to speak. They appreciate that this illness, makes me sick, gives me painful cramps, embarrassing bloating and gassiness and they don't feel offended when I say no to their delicious looking dishes, as they can potentially make me ill.

I don’t want to brag, I just want to help.

As I have mentioned in another article, since discovering that I suffer from IBS, I have modified my lifestyle and diet to a point that I can manage those symptoms, and at least to a certain point, I feel that I am somewhat in control on how I am going to feel most days. It is not my intention to brag about the fact, that I now feel a hundred times better, then I used to. We are all different, we do not all react to changes to our diet or lifestyle in the same way; but those adjustments had an enormous impact on my IBS and the reason I am sharing this with you, it’s to give you hope and encouragement so that you may stay positive and try to find a solution that works for you. Do not give up, if something doesn’t work, tweak it, change it, get the professional help you need, do anything else, but give up.

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