05 April 2018

Getting to the bottom of it... My IBS Story | Lippy In The City

This is going to be a completely different blog post to my usual beauty and lifestyle related ramblings (pre-warning). Today, I'm going to talk about IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome to give it it's full horrible name. When I look back, I'd say I've been suffering with IBS since I was around 14, that's half my lifetime! It comes and goes with varying degrees of severity but has been significantly worse for me during the last 16 months.

This recent episode started when I came back from Cuba in January 2016 where I'd had the most amazing holiday with my boyfriend, but during the holiday and the weeks that followed I could tell there was something seriously up with my gut. I was ranging from not going to the bathroom for two weeks, to having to go multiple times a day. This was made significantly worse by the crippling pain that I was experiencing in the process. The pains in my stomach and lower abdomen were like nothing I had ever experienced before, I remember being in work in tears as I was in the bathroom praying that the pain would subside as I felt like I physically couldn't move, it was a really scary experience. As the pains in my stomach wears off, I'm left with a dull ache down my thighs and lower back which isn't too pleasant either.

As well as the pains, desperate urge to dash to the loo, and stomach gurgles, I bloat. LIKE. NO. OTHER. I can frequently resemble the look of a women 84 months pregnant. Many of my clothes don't fit when I'm having a bad day and I feel like a sausage that has been filled too much, almost like I'm ready to bust at the seems. Elasticated waistbands have quickly become my bff's.

One day I decided that enough was enough, I couldn't continue to live this way (if you can call it living). I was passing up opportunities and saying no to things quite simply through the fear of needing the loo. I dread to think of all the things I've turned down over the years because of my IBS. After a particularly bad morning in work I got an emergency appointment at my local Drs who did in fact confirm that I was suffering with a bad bout of IBS (no shit Sherlock...) I have both IBS - D (D for the diarrhoea version) and IBS - C (C for the constipation version). People can have either one of the other, or be unfortunate like me and swing between the two. IBS doesn't currently have an 'official' cure, I manage mine as best as I can but it can be made worse by certain foods, stress and your environment, you have to learn over time what your personal triggers are. I was prescribed Alverine Citrate by my GP which has been an absolute god-send. Alverine Citrate is an anti-spasmodic medication that helps stop the spasms in your gut that cause me the crippling pain. I take these twice a day as the pain in my stomach is by far my worst symptom.
(There are many different IBS medications available, your GP will prescribe which is best for you and your symptoms).

Over the last few months I have researched numerous natural remedies to try and ease my symptoms too. I've found that heat works particularly well for me, on bad days I sit with a mini hot water bottle up my jumper (I'm sure my colleagues must think I'm crazy) but if it works, it works. Hot showers and baths are also firm favourites of mine, I find the hot water on my stomach and back so soothing. I've come to realise that caffeine aggravates my stomach too so I tend to stick to peppermint tea whenever possible, but some days you just have to accept though that nothing is going to help and riding it out is your only option. Those days are the worst.

I've also started experimenting with a low FODMAP diet. Two weeks in and I can honestly say I've never felt better, I haven't bloated once! If you'd like more info on what a low FODMAP diet entails please let me know in the comments and I can pop a blog post together outline it's principles and how it works.

DISCLAIMER: My apologies if this post has offended any of my regular readers. I have been so inspired by the wonderful Jo Coates after reading her IBS story, I had to share mine too. As many as 1 in 5 people in the UK suffer with IBS, yet unfortunately it still carries a massive stigma. It would be amazing if we could get people talking so we could start addressing the issues surrounding this debilitating condition and finally bring these barriers down... xoxo


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