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Living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome Without Knowing It

When I was diagnosed with IBS it was one of the happiest days in my life.

I can still remember the moment my doctor told me: “I believe that you suffer from IBS”. I looked at him confused, not knowing what that meant, but before I could even clarify, he continued: “You will need to see a dietician, I will give you a referral.”

What was that all about? IBS? Dietician? What for?

Not wanting to sound ignorant, I hesitantly asked what IBS was and that’s when I finally discovered that my pains and suffering of the last few years were all along due to this Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Immediately my doctor explained that my syndrome could improve by working on my diet with a dietician.

Thankfully after many years of suffering and visiting many health professionals, it seemed like my numerous symptoms had a name. I was happy to have a diagnosis, finally I could do something about it.

I believe that stress caused my early IBS symptoms.

Looking back to when my IBS symptoms started, it’s hard to recall exactly when it all began. I remember suffering from cramps and diarrhea when I was a teenager, during my final years of high school. I believed those episodes were caused by the stress I was feeling, due to school work overload and exams. Bowel cramps used to build up as I was approaching the school building and several times I had to return home. These symptoms eventually stopped around the same time I finished high school and apart from the odd issue, I could say that I was and felt healthy throughout most of my twenties and thirties.

My 40s did not only bring wrinkles and grey hair.

Forward to my early forties and those cramps, bloating and diarrhea became a daily routine. I also felt fatigued and had a general off-balance sensation.

I am not sure what sparked those symptoms, at that specific time, but in mind I now wonder if the many courses of antibiotics, that I was prescribed to fight various bronchitis, could have contributed to it, especially considering that antibiotics have an effect on our good gut bacteria.

At the time I still associated those symptoms being triggered only by stress and not at all by food. I was eating a fairly healthy and balanced diet and I could not imagine that good food could be causing me issues.

I spent the following few years visiting several health practitioners, one would suggest lack of certain vitamins and minerals in my body, another one suggested to give up dairy and wheat products.

As the years passed, I followed this and that advice, but ultimately my symptoms continued. My bloating after every single meal, should have been a sign, but I still couldn’t accept that healthy food could make me sick.

I even thought I was suffering from unstable angina, and I ended up three times at the hospital emergency.
Various tests and scans later, it was determined that fortunately my heart was in mint condition, and that my pains were due to heartburn.

On top of the terrible, physical pain I was suffering in those years, the frustration of not knowing what was wrong with me, was wearing me down. I can remember the embarrassment, when I had to leave work meetings to run to the toilet, walking away from the room, while my bowels made fairly loud rumbling noises. I would bloat so much that my belly looked like I was ready to give birth to twin babies. No, not babies, my belly was full of gas, which was trying to get out from any existing aperture in my body (have you ever heard of ‘queef’?). There was mucus in my stool too. It was painful, horrible and stressful.

My doctor, my savior.

In my mid 40s, a new doctor started to work in my local medical center, and he took the time to ask a lot of questions regarding my symptoms, a lot more than any other GPs I visited until that moment.

He sent me to do scan of my organs, blood tests and breath tests.

After reviewing all results, he told me I was suffering from IBS, and that’s where this story began.

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.