A person in a yoga pose balances on the top of a mountain, surrounded by similar peaks as well as valleys.

Struggling with IBS-A

So which is worse? Diarrhea or constipation? How about, which is worse, diarrhea, constipation or…diarrhea and constipation. I think we all know the answer to that question (depending on the severity of your particular brand of IBS, of course). Well, I suffer from the ‘both’ kind. Alternating, sometimes within a few days, between IBS-D and IBS-C. Wow, this is great. I was pissed off enough when I was diagnosed with IBS-D three years ago. Over the last year, my IBS has morphed into an even more distressing beast. How does one deal with this? How do you treat both? It’s a frustration that I know many people have. I still have not really learned how to deal with it, but I’d like to share my experience, perhaps only for cathartic reasons.

My experience with IBS-A

I think I’ve tried to take the ‘glass half full’ attitude with all this. To me, constipation hurts a lot worse. My back pain gets really bad and I find myself very frustrated because it is very difficult to focus on my responsibilities when there is pain like this. The diarrhea is annoying, dirty, hard on my self-esteem and just generally, very unpleasant. I have a different type of stomach ‘pain,’ but it is more uncomfortable than painful. This is the best way I can describe it. I have been prescribed medication, dietary ideas, and stress reduction techniques. Some work, some don’t. The constant struggle is that a lot of the things that help constipation aggravate diarrhea and vice-versa. I think I have a pretty good handle on managing the IBS-D. I have an excellent diet that seems to keep things at bay for long periods. I go to the gym whenever I can and I have worked on the mental health issues that go along with it to the point that I can truly say I’m ‘stable.’ And happy…until. I may go weeks or months without any serious issues, but the pattern now is that diarrhea and all the things that go with it come back. Then, within a week or so, everything dries up and I have to deal with constipation and back pain. Terrible stuff. The only thing I can think of is to go back to the drawing board and start addressing them as a single problem, just with more variables.

How I manage IBS-A

When I first really started learning about IBS in general, I became very interested in the management of the illness. Just to keep it simple, I have simply adjusted my plan of attack to include the IBS-A aspect. As much as many treatments contradict themselves with regards to these two different types of issues, there are many that work for both. I find that fiber, stretching, yoga, therapy, meditation and sensory therapy all help with both problems. Yoga, in particular, helps an awful lot with constipation. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a mainstay in my wellness regimen. Diet remains mostly the same with some obvious tweaks when shifting from one IBS type to the other. These are simple thoughts and suggestions and they don’t ‘fix’ the problem. But as we’ve discussed before, there is no ‘fix.’ We can only practice management and make sure our head is screwed on straight. Just my take. Thanks for listening.

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