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Hello everyone,

I'm not sure if anyone will ever read this or respond, but like some of you, I feel totally helpless.

I have been suffering from IBS for 3 years after an infection that ruined my digestive system. My symptoms have worsened over the past year and I am so discouraged. No matter what I eat my stomach is just upset and angry. It sucks because I'm only 17 and I'm in my last year of highschool and I want to go out and hang with my friends and go to dinner etc. but I have to think to myself if it's worth the pain.

No one in my family REALLY understands my pain. They think I just have stomach aches all the time, but if this was a stomach ache I probably wouldn't have to stay home from school once a week to deal with the pain.

Along with this, I have super bad cramps during my time of the month and have recently gotten some ultrasound work done because I know something isn't right. I get the WORST IBS flare-ups during my period and if anyone knows why, please clue me in. It's like I can't even live when it's happening.

I'm going to University next year and can't imagine what I'm gonna do. I have such mixed feelings about going away for school. I wanted to so badly, but everytime I get a stomach episode, I can't imagine leaving. I don't want it to hold me back....

I need advice. Does anyone know how I feel?

Sarah
 

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I get the WORST IBS flare-ups during my period and if anyone knows why, please clue me in.
This is very common and typical in IBS. For more info please read the "IBS and Hormones" article pinned to the top fo the "Women's Forum".

Have you tried using a probiotic?? (And I mean more than a eating a yogurt or two. Go to a druggist or health food store to get them)

Have you tried Digestive enzymes?(Same .. see a druggist or health food store)
And if you have really bad cramps.... ask your Dr to help you by prescribing some birth control pills... they work wonders on terrible cramps. Surprised they haven't asked yo uto try them yet.

But what are you doing to help yourself? Have you tried using a heat patch for the pain? You see them for bad backs usually.. but try one on your abdomen. And no, missing a day of each week of school isn't good or normal.. so either go back to your Dr for guidance or start trying things to manage your symptoms.
 

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If that can help, I remember high school with IBS and it was really the worst, but as soon as I went to uni I had a lot less pressure and a lot more freedom so the symptoms gradually lessened. Also, my period cramps used to leave me lying on the ground for three entire days but now I've had my period for ten years the pain is bearable. Ask your doctor about this: in my country we have some extra strong medicine with opium, paracetamol and caffeine in it (because it knocks you down) that's what I was prescribed when I was 17 for period pains, and it knocked me out so well I didn't even have IBS cramps. But that's not an option for IBS symptoms as it is a very strong prescription drug.

I've also noticed that period cramps and IBS cramps are an incredible lot less like hell if I'm healthy and not tired at the time of my period. When I'm feelign good the day before, chances are I won't even feel any cramps. However when I've had a harsh week, be assured I'll have to stay in bed for at least a day, and if I have to go to uni I'll have awful cramps all day long. So maybe you can try to relax and take it extra easy during the week before your period?

As for next year, remember that you will be a lot more responsible for yourself, and is odd as it may seem, it will bring you some peace of mind and allow you to handle your IBS. Also, start telling people whom it may concern that you have health issues and when you miss a date or a party it's not you being unreliable. That way when you meet new friends next year they will know you like that and won't take the piss if you miss out on too many outings. It's how I handle it and I have never once met someone who wasn't understanding about it - which is awesome.

And if it can make you feel better about the upcoming year, I once spent a year abroad at uni partying and drinking and eating the worst food ever, but I was having so much fun that my IBS didn't seem like a big deal at all. Okay I had bad days, but I also had so much fun that I barely remember being sick. So even with IBS, if you're having fun and looking out for yourself (i.e. making sure you won't ever be away from the toilets if you have to make a run for it)

You can have IBS and a social life at the same time ;) Last night I was supposed to go to the restaurant with my bf to meet his friends, but on the way there I suddenly had some sick cramps and had to rush home. While I was sick, they moved the party to our place! So I was home and near the toilet and everything, and the first half of the evening was tough because of the cramping, but it was so fun that the pain eased up and finally let me alone, and I had a great time. And nobody said anything about me leaving from time to time when I had to take some time to breathe because of the pain.
 

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Hi,

I'm 20 years old and have suffered from IBS-D for a few years now, with the symptoms worsening in the past year.

It can be such an alienating condition at times as people who don't suffer from it will never truly comprehend how debilitating it can be.

When you can't leave your house for fear of an 'episode' occurring it can put serious strain on relationships and make everyday tasks impossible.

But, alas, there is some light at the end of the tunnel and this comes mainly from getting educated and figuring out what works for you!

Start by finding a supportive doctor who can refer you to specialist- dieticians, gastroenterologist and most importantly for you a Gynaecologist.

For many women the link between hormones and IBS has proved to be very evident and additionally there is a chance that you may be suffering from other conditions (e.g. endometriosis) that cause can cause IBS symptoms during menstruation.

For me personally I have had massive success with the low FODMAP diet and if you haven't heard/tried it yet I seriously urge you to do so!

http://med.monash.edu.au/cecs/gastro/fodmap/

http://shepherdworks.com.au/disease-information/low-fodmap-diet

Those two websites will explain the diet in detail.

This diet is fast becoming one of the most successful treatments of IBS in Australia and the moment and one that I have personally seen much success on. However I cannot stress enough that you HAVE to follow the diet 100% and for at least 4-8 weeks to see improvement.

Keeping a food diary will help too, as you can establish individually what works for you and what doesn't, as our bodies are all so different in makes sense that each of our management plans for IBS would differ a little. That said, IBS management really does start with diet, before any of the other stuff that comes with it. Stress management, which does not cause IBS but can certainly exacerbate the issue is also key, exercise and maintaining health and constant check ups and tests run by doctors and specialist are all very important.

I know it can be hard but establishing a support network can really help you realise you are not alone, and in establishing strategies to deal with IBS you will soon realise things can get and will get better!

Hope this has helps.
 

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Sounds like me except I'm 21 now. I developed IBS right after I turned 14 after an infection. Are you IBS-C or IBS-D? I'm IBS-C so if you are IBS-D I'm not sure how relevant my advice would be.

I also have a load of 'female' problems such as pain, but the ultrasounds and blood tests never found anything. As soon as I turned 18 I went around begging doctors to run every test possible and have exhausted the list of gastro tests they can run on me. But there are still a bunch of tests for my female problems I haven't had done yet, but can't seem to convince them otherwise.

I do recommend that you pester your doctors to run everything possible when you turn 18 because I know they wouldn't do certain tests before I turned 18. The reason why I recommend this is that there's always a possibility it's something else if they don't thoroughly check you.

As for going away to college, I personally couldn't because I need to take laxatives every few weeks or so and was not comfortable with sharing bathrooms. I went to college in the city and joined an organization to meet friends and play. But I live in a major city. It seems you do too, so it's still not a bad option. I can't say if you should or should not go away for college, but there is always the option of transferring to a city college if going away is too hard on your body. You can always try it out and transfer out if it doesn't work out.

I was able to spend most of my college years going to school, interning, participating in an organization and hanging out in the city. Obviously if I hadn't been sick the things I could and would have done so much more. I still kick myself for not doing more, but my college years have just ended so I can't change that now. So learning from MY mistake, if you want to do something you should try and if it doesn't work out there are other options.

The only advice I can really give to you is try NOT to stay in. Try to stay as involved in school and with friends as possible.

It sure sucks a hell lot and I can't tell you it gets easier because it doesn't. You get older and the responsibilities and stress stack up, but the last thing you want to let those fun years go to waste. So whenever possible, suck it up, have fun, and then crawl to bed in pain. I usually go home saying, "worth it."

I also spent a lot of time staying home and hiding out. I realized it made me more miserable. Going out feeling bloated, bricked down and constipated was more enjoyable to me than staying home looking at Facebook pictures of what other people were doing. Even though I still do feel miserable and jealous for things unrelated.

It's pretty tough and there will be days where you need to take time off from people and stay in. Hells, you'll probably be miserable half the time but IMO it's still better to do things than to not because you can never go back to the 'college years' once you let it slip away. Best to make whatever you can of it than to not.

tl dr; Get every test possible when you turn 18. Try going away for a year if its too tough you can always transfer back to a city college near home. Go out and have fun because you never know if it will get better or worse so have whatever fun you can push yourself to have. But obviously its your body and you should know your limits.
 

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I have IBS-A. I'm on the pill, and I get horrible flare-ups the week of my period, too. Then they combine with cramps/backaches from Aunt Flo and...let's just say I'm bed-bound. Thankfully, I scheduled my classes to have free afternoons so I can nap. :D

I've noticed sleeping when you have pain helps, and so does exercise. I tried jogging and noticed that it reduced my IBS symptoms (though I haven't done any this week because I was too busy, so I've had worse IBS and period symptoms). Try finding some form of exercise that works for you!

There is a hormone that induces bleeding (prostaglandin) that also causes bowel issues even in people without IBS during that time of the month, so it probably affects us worse. Just keep trying! If you find something that works for you, no matter how stupid it might seem, go with it! I've noticed that for me, listening to enjoyable music at a loud volume until I forget my troubles helps my stomach calm down. :)

If you need anything, we're here for you!
 
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