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Holding a mystery pill in both hands

IBS-M: To Treat or Not to Treat?

IBS-M is frustrating for many reasons. Irritable bowel syndrome itself is completely unpredictable. Treatment options fail to control the pain and symptoms for some people, and it feels like treatment options are limited. When you have mixed symptoms, is there an effective treatment to keep in all in control? The answer for me is no, and I am at my wit’s end.

I could list a number of things that may be contributing to worsening symptoms, but some of them are out of my control. Age-related hormone issues seem to play a large role, and there is nothing I can do about that. Ponce De Leon’s alleged fountain of youth holds no cure for those of us flying through the decades. Regardless of why it is worsening, the fact remains that it is worsening. This is a big problem for me. Should I try to treat my IBS again?

This is the flare that never ends

Aside from increased pain levels, I am also attempting to survive what seems like never-ending flares. A bout of IBS-D went on long enough that I started considering medication again. This flare went on for weeks on end, and I thought it would never end. I was very close to asking my doctor about taking an antispasmodic medication again. IBS, being predictably unpredictable, decided to shut down that idea by throwing a bout of IBS-C into the mix.

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I have taken an antispasmodic in the past before IBS-C decided to appear on a regular basis. Once those episodes began, I stopped taking the medication in hopes that it would put an end to that. It did not. I found myself flipping back and forth. I tried taking the medication before meals while I was in the midst of an IBS-D flare. This didn’t work, either. It triggered a frustrating flip-flop of flares. I stopped taking medication and have not taken any in years.

It goes on and on, my friends

The problem with IBS-M is the same as the problem with IBS in general. Flares are completely unpredictable. We have no way of knowing what is next, and that makes effectively treating symptoms seem like an impossible feat for anyone with any form of IBS. With IBS-M, treating one symptom may trigger the other. What treats IBS-D can easily lead to IBS-C, and vice versa. Attempting to treat one is taking a chance of ending up in a flare of the other.

Most of us with IBS-M are told to treat the current symptoms. How? When symptoms change quickly and without warning, how am I supposed to keep it under control? I have not found an answer, so the vicious cycle goes on and on and will continue to rage on until it drives me bonkers.

Some people started having flares not knowing what it was

When I was first diagnosed with IBS, I was in the midst of an IBS-D flare. This was decades ago, and there were no types of IBS at that time. We were all lumped under one label and it was assumed that we all had severe bouts of diarrhea. When I had flares of IBS-C, I questioned whether or not I had IBS at all. I worried there was a bigger problem because I was never told I could have both.

Upon diagnosis, I was told to expect chronic diarrhea. The treatment plan given to me was to eat baked chicken breasts and rice. I was told to drink chicken broth and eat gelatin during the worst episodes. The only medications given were an antispasmodic and pain medication. The appearance of chronic constipation left me confused and questioning my diagnosis. I had no idea what those flares were. Now I know, but I am still left trying to figure out how to treat it.

They’ll continue having flares forever just because

Do I treat the flares? Do I ride it out? How do I keep from triggering another flare? After decades of trying to navigate this winding path, I still have not figured out what I should do. Every attempt at treatment has failed. Trying to treat the symptoms generally triggers the opposite. After many years of dealing with a literal pain in my rear, I am now facing worsening and more frequent flares. I do not expect a cure, but a bit of relief would be nice. Unfortunately, it seems I will just keep flipping back and forth forever just because there really is no effective treatment for mixed episodes.

Is anyone else frustrated by the lack of options for treating IBS-M? Have you found a way to treat symptoms without triggering the opposite symptoms? I would love to hear what was worked for you.

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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