“I’m not feeling very well today – my IBS is flaring up,” I told my mom on our phone call.
“Why?” she asked.
Why indeed. It’s the question we who suffer with IBS ask ourselves as soon as our symptoms flare up, along with questions about what we ate and what we did that might have caused our sensitive systems to become so inflamed, painful, and unhappy.
Why did I have a flare-up when I avoided all my IBS triggers?
The morning this flare began, I mentally catalogued what I had eaten for the past 24 hours. No triggering foods, at least none that I’m aware of. I am strict on avoiding gluten and dairy, and I limit sugar and alcohol. I did have a mimosa at a bridal shower, but I avoided all the deserts (they all had gluten anyway). I had a normal dinner and ate nothing out of the ordinary. My stress level is pretty average right now, and I’ve been getting regular exercise. Hormone fluctuations can be a trigger for some women with IBS, but I’m not in one of those cycles right now.
Whatever caused this particular episode, the symptoms are intense: bloating, cramps of pain, diarrhea, and fatigue – that underlying exhaustion that zaps all energy or desire to do much of anything.
As I explained to my mom, sometimes I don’t know why my IBS gets triggered. I can avoid all my known triggers and STILL have a flare-up.
It’s one of the most frustrating parts of living with IBS, and one of the things that people who don’t live with may not understand. We want to have an explanation – if we could figure out the Why, we could stop doing that thing – but the answers remain unclear for those who suffer with IBS, for the healthcare professionals who treat it, and for the researchers who continue to study to find clues.
All we can do is increase the self-care, use whatever remedies help the symptoms, and ride it out.