A hand reaches for an overturned, open bottle of pills. The pills that have spilled out are increasingly on fire.

Ibuprofen: Bringing Symptom-Free Days to an End

During my teenage years, I received a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome after searching for answers to my digestive issues. I tried many different medications, attempted to follow a bland diet, and eventually learned to just roll with the punches. It was more of an adjustment and acceptance on my part than finding an actual effective treatment at that time.

After I gave birth to my second child, I noticed fewer symptoms. IBS seemed to vanish as symptoms were so minor compared to prior years that I did not notice them. I considered it remission of sorts. I swing from IBS-D to IBS-C and back, and I only had occasional and mild bouts of IBS-C for years after that. Most symptoms were gone, and I forgot about the horrors of living with irritable bowel syndrome and enjoyed several years of a fairly normal digestive system. It was heavenly. Imagine your IBS fading away until it disappeared. Anyone who has IBS knows how great that would be.

Now I am not saying it disappeared completely. My symptoms were so minor I was able to ignore them. I did not have major flares or horrible cramps. IBS-C symptoms appeared from time to time. Those bouts were fairly rare and very mild compared to previous flares so I did not consider them IBS symptoms at all. I did not have to watch what I ate or avoid activities because of unexpected IBS-D flares. Those types of flares were gone. My life returned to a more normal state, and I loved it. I hoped it would continue that way for the rest of my days.

An unexpected return of symptoms

A pinched nerve began giving me fits about 8 years ago. I tend to avoid visiting a doctor if I can, so I ignored it as long as I could. Eventually, it affected my work and led me to seek treatment. Steroids are typically prescribed to treat a pinched nerve, but I cannot take steroids. It would interfere with another medication I take. The other treatment is a high dose of ibuprofen. That is what I was prescribed.

In all fairness, the ibuprofen did help my initial complaint. The pain associated with the pinched nerve subsided for a while. Unfortunately, it triggered one of the worst IBS flares I ever had. My carefree days were over, and years of living without symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome ended. Not only did I get my IBS back, but I also learned the pinched nerve would be a chronic issue that ibuprofen will not fix or effectively treat long-term.

Regretting Decisions

If I had known then this would be the result, I would have never taken ibuprofen. Nobody told me it caused problems when I was initially diagnosed, and being flare-free for so many years kept me from mentioning it during my doctor's visit. I did not think to discuss my IBS diagnosis with a doctor I had only seen for a year at that time. I despise it and its side effects so much that ibuprofen is now listed as an allergy in my medical files to ensure it is not prescribed to me again. Even taking a small dose triggers a major IBS flare now. Aspirin is also listed as one of my allergies because I am well aware of its tendency to cause problems.

Years of living symptom-free were a blessing. I was able to travel with my children and partake in a lot of activities I would have missed if I dealt with frequent flares. For that, I am grateful. I still have plenty of issues with nerve pain now, and I ended my days of enjoying life without IBS. Oh, how I miss the days when cramping was not an issue, and diet was not a concern. We live and learn. Even if you are not having active flares, remember to talk to your doctor about how a new medication can affect irritable bowel syndrome. It might save you heartache and pain.

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