Today I am sharing some information about living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). While it may be too much information for some, I am really just sharing in case anyone needs the information and for awareness.
I’ve had the symptoms of IBS most of my adult life I just didn’t know that what it was. My flare symptoms include gas, bloating, stomach pain in the left flank area, burping, hiccups, acid reflux, alternating constipation and diarrhea, sweating, fatigue, stuffy nose, nausea and etc. It can really make me miserable and that’s why I try to very hard to keep it under control.
While I’ve had the symptoms most of my life, I was only diagnosed about six or seven years ago. At the time, I had IBS-C which means I had constipation on a regular basis. In recent years, my flare-ups can swing either way IBS-C or IBS-D (diarrhea). I was even put a medication when I was first diagnosed to help relax my bowel and reduce bloating. The medication was unsuccessful. I have had more success with controlling my diet and getting regular exercise.
IBS can be triggered by food, mediations, emotions, stress, environmental issues and weight changes. My biggest personal triggers are dietary, lack of physical exercise and stress. I force myself to get at least 30 minutes of lite exercise even if I don’t feel well because it helps move things along in my gut.
I started seeing a Gastro specialist at Jeff in Philly. He diagnosed me with Pancreatic Enzyme Deficiency which he believes is underlying cause of the IBS. In other words, I don’t have enough Pancreatic Enzymes to digest food properly which means they rot in my gut if I am not properly elimination which triggers the symptoms. He prescribed a prescription strength Digest Enzymes to take with meals. It can have an explosive effect so I don’t use it every meal. He also diagnosed me is Small Intestine Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO happens when bacteria from undigested food in the lower gut comes up into the upper gut. It is triggered by not properly digesting food. SIBO is the Trojan horse of IBS and requires a course of antibiotics to settle the gut bacteria down.
I am current on an antibiotic. The doctor prescribe one that would get my sinuses and my gut bacteria. In some ways, I feel better. In other ways, I am still in thick of it. Once a flare-up is triggered, it takes some time to settle down. It slowly fades away. I get the most relief for extended periods of time when I follow the Low FODMAP diet. This diet only limits carbs that are fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides and polyols. While the diet is restrictive, it has been a Godsend. I learned I can eat food that normally trigger me. It about the portion size but there are still foods I can NOT tolerate. As of last week, I am back on a highly restrictive version of Low FODMAP to help settle things down. Spiritually I always trust my gut but physical – I agree that my gut is bastard!
As I look back on my food diary, I can see where I slipped up. I expanded my diet too far. I was eating beans. BEANS! WTF Linda? I don’t really tolerate beans well. Especially Chickpeas and Black Beans. I can eat Chili occasionally as long as it is cooked a long time. I was eating Cherries and Blueberries – both are high FODMAP. That combo alone could have trigged a flare up. I was eating raw veggies. While I can tolerate a salad when I am feeling good and take a digest enzyme, I can’t really tolerate a lot of raw veggies. Cooked veggies are usually ok. Apples. OMG. The Green Apple almost killed me. I felt my belly immediately swell up. Did I not learn anything from Adam and Eve about Apples🍏
If you’d like more information on IBS, Dr. Axe and Dr. Mark Hyman are great Functional doctors with good tips: Here are a couple of links to get you to their sites.
So here I am. Still bloating. Still with upper left flank discomfort. Still alternating between IBS-C and IBS-D. Just getting through every day waiting for the flare up to fade away but the reality is it’s going to be a few more days. Yes, I will going back to work not feeling a 100% but it’s ok. I am a remote employee. They even told me I can telework more often if needed. I worked for my new GM last year. We’ve become friendly. She recruited me knowing my issues. She knows my belly issues won’t hold me back in work.
If you are having any symptoms that could be IBS, I suggest you make an appointment with Gastro specialist. You will need your Pancreatic Enzyme levels checks. You will need breathe tests for SIBO and other gut absorption issues. You will need an Upper GI with biopsy and maybe a Colonoscopy. I’ve had it all.
ICYMI – I’ve been posting every day this week since I haven’t been working; scroll down to see all of my posts from this week. I will post my regular Self Care Sunday blog tomorrow morning instead of later tonight. After tomorrow’s post, I will be taking a break from writing for a few days.
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