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An exhausted woman lies on her side in bed, watching a show on her laptop and holding a hot water bottle against herself.

Bringing Post-Flare Fatigue into the Spotlight

I’d like to bring the realness that is post-flare fatigue into the spotlight, because I often find this the toughest symptom to live with. I deal with fatigue on a daily basis with my IBS but after a flare it amplifies and I feel almost bed-bound in my body.

Fatigue and IBS

Spending often hours on and off the toilet, emptying my bowels, leaves me feeling empty. Like I have nothing left. I’ll stumble from the bathroom to my bedroom and lay there, depleted, waiting for the next feeling of urgency. Once that passes all I want, and need, to do is sleep. My body craves it.

I can sleep 8-9 hours and still feel like I need more. It takes a huge amount of effort and energy to raise an arm or lift a leg out of the covers. My limbs feel like dead weights, hanging by side. Moving, even the few steps to the next room, is a huge effort. My brain will feel fuzzy and I’ll have a leftover feeling of emptiness in my body.

Describing the feeling as being drained doesn’t quite cut it. It feels more than that. It’ll take my body a full 24 hours to begin to feel normal again.

The powers of rest and sleep

In those 24 hours I have to make rest a priority. I sleep and sleep and sleep until I start to shake the tiredness. I’ll prop myself up with pillows and stick a series on. Anything to distract my mind from the feeling that I should be doing something else. I’ll fuel myself with water and rice and veg, avoiding any trigger foods or things that will only give me a temporary high. I’ll soak into a bubble bath before pulling on fresh pjs. I’ll drink copious amounts of peppermint tea and cuddle a hot water bottle. All the standard things I rely on when I have a flare, I continue to gravitate towards on those post-flare days.

Give yourself a break

I try to show myself some compassion, which I still sometimes struggle with. I remind myself that my body is powerful and strong and that it had decided there was a reason for that flare. That it’s ok for me to clear my day and spend it regaining my strength. I have to listen to it and accept it rather than try to power through. Because if I do that I know my recovery will take even longer.

I’m lucky that I’m freelance now and get to work from home most of the time, so I have the power to adjust my schedule to suit my IBS needs. I can start work late if I need an extra hour in the morning or work a weekend if I need to catch up.

Sometimes the guilt I feel for putting my the needs of my body first still catches me by surprise. But I am getting much better at prioritizing my health before everything and everyone else. Because if I’m not feeling my best, my work will show that.

How do you deal with the post-flare fatigue?

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

Comments

  • ExplodingGuts
    5 months ago

    Mine’s been SO-o-o-o much better with tbsp of apple cider vinegar in a cup of water an hour before meals (if you can stand to eat after such a revolting mess) but family notes how much less time I need to rest after a long night of exploding.

  • pauliejay
    5 months ago

    This is so true. I have developed IBS at 70! Not fair, when I should be out enjoying my time, I’m stuck in the house with this pain. This last severe flare has lasted a week. I feel like I might not survive another one. Just starting to get some energy back. I’m always looking for helpful advice from anyone experiencing this situation at retirement age.

  • JanetLH
    5 months ago

    This isn’t a total answer for fatigue, but I keep Gatorade on hand for IBS bouts. My theory is that some of my fatigue is due to dehydration, and perhaps needing some electrolytes. Some folks might prefer Pedialyte, or another drink. It doesn’t totally remove being tired, but it helps me somewhat.

  • HessP moderator
    5 months ago

    Thank you so much for sharing what works for you, @JanetLH ! I think this is great advice for many of us who struggle with both fatigue and IBS. Thanks again for sharing and being a part of the community! – Hess, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team member

  • ExplodingGuts
    5 months ago

    I will certainly try that next time (if there is one). Boss JanetLH – many thanks!

  • Nelda
    5 months ago

    I stay fatigued so much so I have indentions in pillows. I take two different medications that should have me bouncing off the walls. Not so. I have a lot of other gi issues as well. You can not describe the fatigue to someone. It takes me 3-5 hours BEFORE I LEAVE for a doctor’s appointment mainly due to fatigue. I’m to the point now my husband has to drive because getting ready has used up my energy. And I’m done apologizing for having to cancel at last minute due to a number of chronic gi issues. I’ve lost a few friends and family along the way. Everyone is all on board for me to put myself first in order to get better until I tell someone no. 2019 resolution – not explaining or apologizing if I cannot attend an event (unless it is someone who supports me). I almost died two diff times in 2017 due to an idiot gi dr. I changed GI doctor’s and am still alive due to a guardian angel and a gi doctor who listens and is all about traditional and holistic treatments. I’m over hearing “you look ok I think you just don’t want to go to …). One friend who is no more has diabetes. I can’t see his illness but I believe he has it. I was not given the same courtesy because I was so sick I could not help him with a project I said I would. Again, by not putting myself first, I have made things worse. We had been friends or so I thought for 40 years. His comments to me were so disrespectful I had had it. And we all know stress is a huge trigger. I called him out and removed him and blocked him. I have IBS-d and IBS -c along with other stuff. We have to listen to our bodies and not feel one bit guilty. I have dust bunnies in certain places that are going to need to be claimed on our taxes they are so big. Rest. Don’t apologize for needing to do it and don’t stress about it!

  • HessP moderator
    5 months ago

    I’m so sorry to hear about your traumatic experiences in 2017, @nelda. I can’t imagine what that must have been like for you. However, I am very happy to see that you’re alive and well, and finding the best ways to cope in life. And you’re right – we should never feel guilty or apologize about living with a chronic illness. And sometimes that might mean losing some friends or relatives along the way, but at least that makes more room for the ones who are truly supportive. You clearly have gone through a lot in life, but you wouldn’t be the strong person you are today if it weren’t because of those experiences. Keep spreading love and support, and never stop fighting the great fight! Thanks again for sharing your story and being a part of our IBS community! Best – Hess, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team member

  • Karina Ioffe
    5 months ago

    Working from home has made it so much easier for me as well to deal with post-flare fatigue! I love just staying in bed with my computer – somehow it’s much more comforting than sitting at a desk. I also prioritize my to-do list and only do what’s really important. It’s a struggle though to not feel guilty about taking some time off.

  • @Roxzilla_
    5 months ago

    I was wondering if this was normal! It definitely takes a whole day to recover from a bad flare 🙁 I wish I could drink peppermint tea but I have horrible gerd so that’s out. Yogi stomach ease tea helps some. I am trying to find a work from home job without set hours and it seems impossible 🙁 Great article thanks!

  • ExplodingGuts
    5 months ago

    Home office – oh, yeah. So many things I can’t do anymore b/c transit hubs here have no public washrooms. I can’t risk it. (Surrey, BC Canada). Who knew Canada was a 3rd World country?

  • tmholland moderator
    5 months ago

    Hi @karina-ioffe,

    Thank you for sharing your ideas about working from home. I also do a bit of working from home and I agree completely about the comfort the flexibility and order brings. We appreciate you contribution. -Todd, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team

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