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alt=a woman lies on her side on a couch, clutching her stomach in discomfort

When IBS-D Improves But Does Not Get Better

Sometimes, I feel like we as IBS-sufferers are doomed. Like there’s no getting out of it.

Lately, my IBS-D has been less severe. Less diarrhea, fewer bathroom trips, rarer terrible flares (although still some). Sounds great, right? But it kind of isn’t.

Whenever I don’t have proper IBS-D episodes, other symptoms start acting up. Like bloating. Oh, how I long for a day where I don’t feel huge, uncomfortable, unable to move!

Bloating might be far better than diarrhea when it comes to leaving the house, but it’s still not a walk in the park.

Decreased productivity

What do you do when you feel miserable? Right, you lie down and wait for it to pass. With an IBS-D flare, it usually ends within a couple of hours, unless it’s really severe. Bloating never seems to pass. I can feel terrible for days on end. Even though it’s much less miserable, I’m still not well. And I don’t feel like doing anything.

It’s hard to be productive when you’re that uncomfortable. Even though it’s easier to push through than an actual IBS flare, bloating is tiring because it can last for so long. I go to bed bloated, I wake up, still bloated. And let’s not talk about the struggle of sleeping when you feel like you’re lying on a balloon.

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No social life

Whenever I’m bloated, my stomach feels huge. Like I’m 5 months pregnant again. And it shows. None of my clothes fit me properly. None of my pants button comfortably. Unless we’re in the middle of winter and I can wear a chunky oversized sweater, there’s no hiding it from the world.

So, I don’t like going out. I feel extremely self-conscious about my giant belly. I’m always afraid that people will ask if I’m pregnant again. Or think that I’m pregnant again. And I couldn’t even blame them, because I really do look like I’m carrying another baby! Thanks, IBS.

Bloating always impacts my social life, just like my usual IBS-D does. Even though it’s technically less of a problem, it still keeps me from leaving the house and from making plans with friends.

The fear of a flare-up

Whenever I’m bloated, I’m always scared that this will somehow turn into a major IBS-D flare. It has happened many times before. And even though sometimes the discomfort just passes, I’m still afraid to go out when I’m dealing with severe bloating.

Even though it’s not as bad as an actual flare, bloating still triggers my anxiety. I’m scared that it’s just a pre-flare symptom, that it will get worse, that I won’t be able to handle the pain. And so, I wait for it to end, at home. Sometimes for days.

Constant discomfort

Unlike my usual IBS-D, bloating should not keep me from doing things. But it’s just so uncomfortable. All day long. Multiple days in a row. And this duration is what impacts me the most.

Constant discomfort really can get to you, just like an actual flare. You saturate. It’s just too much, too long, and you need it to end. But it doesn’t, and nothing helps. I’ve tried teas, heating pads, fasting, but it’s like putting a band-aid on a severe injury: pointless, and it doesn’t stick.

The only remedy I’ve found so far is time. And oh boy, does it take a long time to pass!

Everything makes it worse

Bloating does not make me want to fast as an IBS-D flare does. I still get hungry. But food always makes it so much worse! No matter what I eat, my stomach feels even more huge afterward.

However, since I do get hungry, I also can’t not eat. It’s a vicious cycle, really. Carbs make it worse. Vegetables make it worse. Fruit makes it worse. And let’s not talk about that chocolate cake that’s sitting in the fridge, calling my name.

I can avoid certain foods to not get bloated in the first place but once it happens, there’s really nothing I can do.

Does anyone else deal with painful bloating in between IBS flares? If yes, I would appreciate it if you could share some of your tips!

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.

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