IBS is Not a One Size Fits All Diagnosis
Adjusting to the daily woes of irritable bowel syndrome is not an easy process. It does not happen overnight, and it is not the same for everyone. The entire process of diagnosis, treatment, and the impact on our daily lives differs for most people. This is part of why IBS is such a mysterious illness.
Issues with constipation and diarrhea had been a lifelong problem for me, so this was not the reason why I began seeking a diagnosis. Pain was the reason I sought help. Unfortunately, this is an issue that has not resolved after more than 20 years. The reason I sought treatment differs from some. Others may have consulted their physician because of extreme diarrhea or constipation. Some may have sought relief from persistent nausea. While we all have our reasons, it differs.
Different types and symptoms of IBS
Symptoms also vary. Some people may have all the classic symptoms, while others only have a few of those symptoms paired with other issues that are not experienced by the majority of IBS sufferers. There are also several types of IBS, and these subsets create their own unique set of problems. There is not a normal case when it comes to IBS. It tends to vary so much that it would be impossible to describe a typical IBS case. It just does not exist. IBS is too varied.
IBS-D sufferers experience intermittent bouts of extreme diarrhea or consistent diarrhea with little relief. Some cases are severe enough to require IV fluids to alleviate dehydration. They can also have something between the two with phases of remission ranging from days to weeks to months. IBS-C sufferers have periods of severe constipation or persistent constipation. The severity can range from mild to severe enough to require hospitalization. Then there is IBS-M. This is a mixture of IBS-D and IBS-C and it can include all the symptoms of both.
The effects of foods and diets
When it comes to food, there is no “one size fits all” diet for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome of any type. Different foods affect different people in different ways. Some people cannot eat wheat. Others are not bothered by it. It is the same with dairy, vegetables, meats, and any other food you can imagine. Fried foods bothersome, while others can eat as much as they want with little or no effect. This is why diets vary among people who have IBS. Everyone is different.
Working to identify foods that are bothersome to you through elimination and reintroduction is more effective than following a prescribed diet. Following any type of diet has little or no effect on symptoms for some. Some people follow a strict diet tailored to their needs. Others may eat whatever they want. Some change their diet when needed for traveling or attending events. It is mostly a matter of personal preference, but the effectiveness of any diet varies.
Variances in the effectiveness of medications
Medications may be quite effective for some and have little or no effect on others. Probiotics are very helpful for some and agitate others. Some over-the-counter medications and supplements provide varying degrees of relief or have no effect at all. It seems to be a matter of trial and error, and what works for some does not work for others. None of the medications provide relief for everyone. Many find no relief with any of the medications.
The only normal thing about IBS is that there is no normal. It is different for everyone. Symptoms vary. Treatment and the effectiveness of treatment varies. Diagnosis is typically one of exclusion. If you were recently diagnosed with IBS, the only advice I can give that will most certainly apply to everyone is to expect the unexpected and learn to laugh at it all. Having a good sense of humor is the best treatment for the ever-changing rollercoaster ride known as IBS.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to IBS?