Tips for People That Live With, or Know, an IBS Sufferer

I normally like to talk to my fellow IBS sufferers through my articles, but this time I would like to reach out to those who either live with, or know someone who has IBS. If you’re even reading this, it truly shows how much of a compassionate individual you are, and how far you’re willing to go for the person you love. So for that, I thank you.

What I would like to share with you are a few tips that you could use to either assist or comfort the person you know with IBS. Here they are.

Don’t rush them when they’re in the bathroom

Trust me, we don’t want to be in the bathroom that long either. But when we’re already having trouble pushing and straining, yelling at us through the door to hurry up will only make it worse. Granted, you’re probably in a rush for work or some event, and need to use the bathroom for whatever reason, but I promise you we’re conscious of that and we’re doing our best to speed up the paste. If anything, ask them if they need any water, or anything at all that they feel would help them with their bowel movement. Express to them concern and understanding as opposed to frustration and anger. Helping us feel at ease could potentially help quicken things up, which is good for both you and us.

Show compassion and be listening ear

This is very important because IBS can cause a world of problems, and having someone who cares enough to vent to can help ease a lot of stress for us sufferers. Also, don’t just listen; listen productively. Ask us questions. Help us figure out what and why we feel the way we do, but do it unbiasedly. IBS is extremely complicated and sometimes even medical professionals don’t always have a full grasp of the disease. Help us make sure that we develop a symptom-diary and record everything down for future reference (feel free to start the process for us to help instill inspiration and motivation in us because IBS can be very discouraging). This act alone will show how much you really care.

Don’t try to give them a quick fix

This one usually frustrates me a bit when I have people make cliché suggestions to me about how to manage my IBS, especially when they hardly know anything about it. I don’t expect everyone to know everything about everything, and I do understand the genuine intentions from some. However, there are those few who try to brush off your (valid) complaining just by spewing out some remedy for an illness they’ve never done any real research on. If I were to complain about constipation, they say take a laxative or fiber pills, not knowing if that could actually make my symptoms worse. If I were to complain about pain, they suggest eating a healthier diet, assuming that I’m not already trying my best to eat healthy, or not even realizing how extremely hard it is to stay consistent with a restrictive diet. It’s demeaning when those certain few do that because us IBS sufferers have either tried or will try almost anything to get rid of the negative symptoms, so those suggestions are only showing their true lack of compassion and unwillingness to really listen.

Don’t criticize them for their faults

IBS sufferers are not perfect and we don’t intend to be. However, many of us do try our hardest to stay on top of our health because… well, we have to, but once in a while we just want to be normal and enjoy life like we used to before we got IBS. If that means chomping down on a big, juicy burger with all the fixings, then so be it. Or if we want to indulge in a nice, cold, and creamy banana split, then let us enjoy that. Heck, even if we want to knock down a brewski or two, then that’s our God given right. I promise you we are well aware of the consequences, but sometimes we’re willing to sacrifice pain for a bit of sanity and normalcy, and occasionally just to feel like we can hang with the rest of you. Sometimes we just want to live, like really live, even through the pain.

Offer to cook and/or eat the meals on their restrictive diet

This tip will help go a long way because not only are you actually being supportive, but you’re willing to kind of step in to the shoes of the sufferer and do for him/her what he/she would have to do for themselves, which is not always easy. To not be able to eat the food you enjoy because you know it will trigger a negative symptom can get pretty frustrating and very depressing after a while. However, if we feel like we have a support system that is going through the struggle with us, then that helps keep us encouraged and on top of our health.

Once again, if you’re even reading this (especially this far), then it really goes to show how much you love and care for the person you know who suffers from IBS. We need more people like you who are willing to make sacrifices for us just to help keep us going and happy with life. Also, I promise many of us will return the love and support, so don’t think what you do for us will go unnoticed or unacknowledged. Please share these tips with others and help us continue raising awareness for IBS.

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