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Woman emerging from dark space containing fruitless attempts at cures into a brighter future of acceptance and transparency.

I’ve Tried Everything to Help My IBS

It took me a while to accept that my IBS wasn’t going anywhere. Partly because I didn’t receive much information at all from the numerous doctors I’d seen, and partly because I just didn’t want to acknowledge that the illness would stay with me for years to come.

Since I believed that I could find a cure that would magically make my symptoms disappear, I’ve tried a whole range of medication, diets, and mindsets in the hope of curing my IBS.

Medication

At first, I assumed that my IBS could surely be cured with a pill. My doctor had prescribed me some when he diagnosed me, and I went home thinking that this nightmare would soon be over. Little did I know! The pills didn’t work. After a couple of weeks, I went back to the doctor’s and tried new ones. And again. And again. I started going to a specialist who prescribed me even more pills that did absolutely nothing for me. I tried probiotics, too, but when they didn’t make a difference after two weeks, my doctors told me to go off of them.

Desperate to get my life back, I went back to over-the-counter diarrhea medication for my IBS-D. At one point, I was taking some form of it every other day, well aware that this could not be good for my body. But I didn’t know what else to do.

Then I slowly started noticing that my IBS would flare up really bad around two days after I had taken diarrhea pills. It was like the medication paused my flare-up, only to press play again two days later. And so I forced myself to stop taking any medication and tried to find other ways to reduce my symptoms.

Now I try to take as little medication as possible, but I discovered that probiotics actually do help me. I’ve been taking them for the past 8 months and they do make my symptoms a little less strong.

Diets

My first reaction to my IBS-D symptoms was to just stop eating. I dreaded having a real meal outside of my house. For months, I lived off candy bars just to survive the day. Looking back now, it doesn’t make any sense. The candy bars probably triggered my symptoms, but I didn’t know that at the time.

After a couple of months, when I realized that my IBS wasn’t going anywhere, I decided that I did need to eat proper food somehow. That’s when I turned to plain white rice. I barely ate vegetables or fruit for over a year!

Around the same time as discovering that medication wouldn’t work for me, I started taking matters into my own hands and researching IBS online. That’s when I found the Low FODMAP diet and started it right away. It took a bit of time, but it really started helping. I got to know my trigger foods and was slowly able to eat real meals again. It also helped me control my symptoms and lead a more or less normal life.

Mindset

I’ve tried a variety of different mindsets all throughout my IBS journey. At first, I was convinced that it was some sort of virus, although this illusion didn’t last very long. After that, my (then undiagnosed) IBS became the most embarrassing condition that anyone could have. I felt like no one else in the world could possibly suffer from it. And I had no idea how to deal with it in my professional and personal life.

Once I had regained a bit of control thanks to the Low FODMAP diet, I started looking for alternative solutions for it. I paid for a couple of really expensive osteopathy sessions because I’d heard that they could cure IBS by putting your guts back into place. I let my yoga teacher convince me that my digestive problems were due to bad posture and could be helped with exercise. Finally, I even took a bunch of supplements that were supposed to restore my gut health. But nothing really worked.

Then, I decided that my IBS was probably caused by my anxiety disorder. Everyone was constantly telling me that it was all due to stress and that it was all in my head. So I started believing that. But the truth is, even if it was triggered by stress in the first place, I did not have an anxiety disorder before getting IBS. Even now, my anxiety is related to the fear of having a flare-up – so it’s basically the other way around.

Acceptance

Finally, I came to accept my condition. I started to be more open about it and decided to share my experience online because it might help someone else. And actually, this mindset has in some way reduced both my symptoms and my anxiety.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The IrritableBowelSyndrome.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • cfamilyfix
    3 months ago

    Isn’t it amazing how we can eat something one day and have no reaction and on another day it feels like you drank a bottle of hot sauce? I’ve noticed my condition has evolved ( gotten a bit worse) where bouts of bloating and pain seem to go on for more than a few days where before I could have a bad episode and be over it after a good nights sleep. I sympathize with your frustration as just when you think you got a handle on symptoms they come back and make you have all the same questions over again.

  • HessP moderator
    3 months ago

    It certainly is amazing, @cfamilyfix, and also misleading for many of us when this happens. Also, I’m sorry to hear your IBS has gotten worse. Have you noticed any changes to your diet or lifestyle that could possibly exasperate your symptoms? I know when I’m in a stressful phase of my life, like when I have too much work to get done or too many events to attend around the same time, my IBS tends to overreact. This is usually when a symptom diary comes in handy because it can help pinpoint any changes in your life that may be causing your symptoms to get worse. Have you used a symptom diary before? Please know that you are not alone and we’re always here for support. Thank you for sharing! Stay strong and positive! – Hess, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team member

  • jablo4
    4 months ago

    Everything I just read about your experience having IBS is exactly the same as mine.

    Of all the things I have tried nothing works 100% of the time. I have been dealing with IBS since my childhood for like over 40+ years and currently my symptoms are worse than ever. There have been periods in my life where I have lived a more normal life and have been able to eat whatever I wanted. But then there has also been times (like right now) when it seems it doesn’t matter what I eat….my symptoms are always present. I know a lot of my triggers foods and am really good at staying away from them but even when I eat foods that I think are safe I have issues. I have been in therapy for over 10 years (lots of emotional issues having been raised by a narcissistic mother) and have learned better coping skills to deal with stress and anxiety….but still my IBS D/C flares! So most recently, not wanting to become avoidant and stay at home, I have been taking Imodium to control my IBS D and mostly eating white rice, rice cereal, rice crackers, baked potatoes, fish and chicken and drinking peppermint tea but no fruits or veggies I know I am not getting much nutrients from this diet so I worry about what this is doing to my body. I have tried gut tranquilizers and all they do is make me tired and foggy headed and they do not control diarrhea. I am trying the low FODMAP diet but I am very confused because some of the foods that are low FODMAPs are a trigger for me and some of the high FODMAPs are ok…..
    I get so frustrated and depressed because there just doesn’t seem to be a solution. I had been with the same GI doctor for 15 years but moved to a different state so in search of a new doc but have not been successful.
    I am wondering has anyone found going to a dietician/nutritionist helpful? That is one thing I have not tried.
    This condition is exhausting, embarrassing, frustrating, painful and life altering so I have to wonder why there is not more research being done to find out what causes it and how to cure it. Hopefully one day we will all be free of this condition and be able to eat and drink whatever we want!
    So glad I found this group…i find it very helpful and informative.

  • Kelly Dabel, RD moderator
    4 months ago

    Thanks for sharing and reaching out jablo4. A Registered Dietitian, who specializes in GI, would probably be a great idea for you. You bring up an excellent point about FODMAP, which goes for any diet really. Just because a food is low FODMAP doesn’t mean that your body will tolerate it, especially when it’s a known trigger for you. You may have to overlap the two (low FODMAP and foods you tolerate). Any luck with finding a new doctor? Your current diet does sound quite limited. It’s important to be evaluated by a doctor, especially when your list of “safe” foods is getting so small. In some people, when they are flaring badly and eating a limited variety of food, the body may become intolerant to those foods which were once “safe”. This may be from over-exposure to those foods in the presence of inflammation. In addition to speaking with your doctor, this article on SIBO may be helpful to you as another avenue to explore: https://irritablebowelsyndrome.net/living/why-sibo-test/?r=. Please reach out with questions. While we can’t give any medical advice online, for your safety, we are here to provide info, community and support. Wishing you some answers and relief very soon. Best, Kelly Dabel, RD, Irritablebowelsyndrome.net Team Member

  • jablo4
    4 months ago

    Thanks for your support. I just did the SIBO test about 2 weeks ago and it was negative. The nurse who gave me the results said to follow up with doctor in 3 months. REALLY!?!? I guess there is nothing more they can do to help me. At my first appt I explained my history and current situation. And the dr said to try low FODMAP diet and take Imodium as needed. She also prescribed an anti spasmodic but it doesn’t help and said to try IBDguard which I’m hesitant to take because it’s peppermint and I also have GERD, so that also adds to finding foods I can tolerate. Nothing seems to help and I go between bouts of diarrhea and constipation, which the Imodium surely is making worse! I think my only option now is to find a good nutritionist and see if they can help me. I just wish I knew why this flare up is not settling down and find something to help. Usually I have periods when I feel normal but not this time. Very frustrating!

  • tim13ber
    4 months ago

    I have ibs, but with constipation. I’ve had it most of my life. Recently, it’s flared up so bad. I have problems everyday. I’m planning on get the Sibo test soon. I wondered if anyone had heart palpitations with ibs? I’ve never had the palpitations before with it, but since it’s so bad, I wondered if this was another symptom? Thanks

  • Chris Hall moderator
    4 months ago

    The recent flares you’re mentioning sound really rough, @tim13ber. We’ve heard other folks mention heart palpitations before, but whether or not they are related to IBS is something we’d encourage you to speak to your doctor about (if you haven’t already). Keep us updated on the SIBO test! – Chris, IrritableBowelSyndrome.net Team

  • peter
    6 months ago

    IDoHave trouble putting weight because OF MY IBRREATBLE BOWEL SYNDORME and Because I GET ANNAL Burning Fissures and HAMMORDS and BLOOD Flow PROBLEMS and MY inStine PROBLEMS and Burning Bladderproblems and Burning Diarrhea andTHE RUns

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