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How the Internet Saved Me From An IBS Downfall

When I first developed IBS it was the late 90s and I was in my late teens. The internet was still in its infancy and I didn’t have a lot of access to it either. I only went on it a few minutes a day to check email at the library before retreating to my dorm room where I had no access to it for most of my campus.

Personally, I am a bit of a Luddite. I am probably one of the last people in the country with a flip phone, which I don’t even use that often. Overall, I am ambivalent about the increasing role of the internet and social media in our lives.

Internet helped me gain better control of my IBS

Nonetheless, I can’t deny that the internet was a huge help in enabling me to gain better control over my IBS.

Unfortunately, doctors and other medical professionals ultimately were not of any real help to me and actually, many of the suggestions made by them made my IBS worse. Trained as a journalist, as I increased my access to the internet, I used it to investigate my disorder and find others who had it and correspond with them. I did this in order to determine ways to better manage my illness.

I want to offer the disclaimer that I did first try researching actual books at brick-and-mortar libraries, but the process was tedious and convoluted and there was a lack of information I needed. As the internet became more popular and I finally had access to it from the comfort of my own home, I found I could find better resources without straying far from a private bathroom (which at the time was a constant concern).

How the internet helped me control my IBS symptoms

It was through the internet that I found out about how a diet high in soluble fiber can really help IBS, as well as recipes and a list of food staples high in soluble fiber, which I began incorporating into my daily diet. It was through the internet that I also found a brand of soluble fiber I could mail order online to supplement my diet that worked much better than the kinds of fiber offered over the counter at most mainstream stores. By researching online, I found out about the usefulness probiotics and certain herbal teas in easing or treating certain tummy troubles. I also found and printed out a list of trigger foods to avoid if one has IBS. In short, the internet was really a lifesaver in this regard.

While the dangers of the internet include difficulty in discerning legitimacy of sources and it can be so much information it can take time to weed through it all and find what’s useful, the bright side is it socializes access to data. This can be especially critical for women, who often have their pain and illnesses downplayed or altogether dismissed in the medical community, and need to find alternatives for finding what works for our bodies.

I also found online support groups, which made me feel less alone, while also trading tips and tricks with other subscribers. Fast forward to today and the internet is even more sophisticated. Now sites like these exist, that enable advocates to lend a voice to their daily experiences and readers to interact with us via the comments section or reach out to us on email.

Beware of sites that aren’t credible!

One thing is when trying to access information, beware of sites that aren’t credible or inundating yourself with too much too fast. I find looking up peer review data, nonprofits that specialize in the disease, and chat boards that host, to be the most helpful.

How about you? Have you found the internet helpful in finding out more about IBS and how to manage it? Why or why not? Please share in the comments section below!

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.


  • ldonne
    4 months ago

    When I first was diagnosed back in 2004 with IBS, I never did any internet searches on it to educate myself. I took my diagnosis as its what I have, followed my doctors instructions with medication and keep going on. When my symptoms became more frequent, it made me start wanting to understand how I could better help myself and I started my own online searches to educate myself. Food combining was probably where I started and I was really glad I worked with a lady who was familiar with fodmap diet. She had suggested to google it and read up on it.
    The Internet has helped me over the years find ways to manage. I still get flares, but I know it’s something that I need to accept.

  • tmholland moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi @Idonne,

    Your story is very similar to mine. I took the diagnosis and did as my doctor said…until I realized that each of us has to find our own way. I started with food too and since I needed to go online for help with that, I started to read, and read and read :-). Then I started to write lol. I agree with you that acceptance is key. I hope you are well today and thank you for sharing. -Todd, Team

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