IBS Terms I Wish I Knew Before

I remember when I first started dealing with IBS, I didn’t really know how to describe my symptoms. In fact, I was so embarrassed by them that I didn’t even want to try at times. However, I realized that only hurt me because no one could understand the severity of the pain I was experiencing, and how it was affecting my quality of life. There are many reasons why I struggled with being open about my IBS, but had I known certain medical terminology, it would have made it so much easier for me to describe what I was going through. With that being said, I would like to share with you all a few terms I wish I would have known when I first started dealing with IBS symptoms but ended up learning later in my health journey.

Visceral hypersensitivity with IBS

Visceral hypersensitivity is a medical term I learned from a book called Reclaim Your Life From IBS, by Melissa G. Hunt, PhD.1 It basically means that one can feel normal activity, such as a gas bubble, in the gut at an intensely painful level. I have mentioned this term quite a few times in my past articles, and I’m sure many of you know the concept by now. However, when I first learned this term and its definition, I got so excited that there was finally a medical explanation I could try to use when describing my IBS pain. I was tired of just saying my stomach hurts. Now, I can explain how and why it hurts, which is better than just stating the obvious. I am not an expert on the topic of visceral hypersensitivity, which is why I can only try to do my best when it comes to explaining how IBS affects me on the inside.

Tenesmus and IBS

According to Merriam Webster, tenesmus is a “distressing but ineffectual urge to evacuate the rectum or bladder.”2 So, for instance, when you finish having a bowel movement, you feel the sudden urge to go again, even though you just went. This is a medical term that describes my experience very accurately because there are many times when I feel like I had an incomplete bowel movement. Can you imagine going out in public and having to deal with tenesmus? The stomach and rectum pain just cause constant distraction because all you feel like doing is sit on the toilet until you gain some relief, which makes it difficult to enjoy a night out.

Distension and IBS

According to Merriam Webster, distension means “the act of distending or the state of being distended especially unduly or abnormally.”3 I already had an idea of what the word meant growing up, but I didn’t understand the gravity behind the symptom until I got IBS. I never took distension to be a big deal when I was younger because I thought it was just something that naturally happens after eating a lot. However, now that I have IBS, distension not only causes my stomach to protrude immensely, but there is also a lot of torturous pain behind that bulging belly. In other words, when I’m distended, it means the pain is pretty much at its highest.

Medical terminology helps me understand my IBS

I had such a hard time describing my IBS pain in the beginning. Many people didn’t believe me and belittled my experience. After years of research, I finally came across visceral hypersensitivity, tenesmus, and distension. These terms are important to me because I can finally describe my IBS using medical terminology that truly validates my painful experience, whether others believe me or not.

Can any of you relate to my article? Do any of you have terms you wish you would’ve known sooner to describe your IBS experience? If so, please share them with us below in the comment section. Thanks!

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