Let’s face it. Bathroom issues are embarrassing, and we will all go to great lengths to avoid talking about them. But what do you do when those issues start infringing on your life? You probably want answers. Is it a temporary condition like a stomach virus, or is it a chronic condition like a food allergy or maybe even irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?
IBS is a collection of gastrointestinal symptoms that affects about ten percent of Americans during their lifetime. Because symptoms and triggers vary broadly and may resemble other conditions, IBS is often misdiagnosed.
The only way to receive a correct diagnosis for your symptoms is to make an appointment with your doctor, but in the meantime, you may find it helpful to start a journal with any information that would be helpful for your doctor to know.
Take note of your symptoms
Your doctor visit will be more efficient if you begin keeping a journal of your symptoms. Some common symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, bloating and nausea after a normal-sized meal. Be as specific as possible about your daily symptoms, and keep accurate logs of your food intake and bathroom visits. You may want to include the time of each meal and bathroom visit.
Try to find patterns
IBS is characterized by suddenness or urgency. Do your abdominal cramps strike suddenly and without warning, or do they develop after you eat a certain food? Do any food combinations trigger diarrhea, or is your bowel unpredictable? If you are noticing that specific foods might be causing cramping or diarrhea, your doctor may test you for food allergies or celiac disease. On the other hand, erratic and unpredictable cramping and diarrhea may point more toward IBS.
Pay attention to contradictory feelings in your gut
One of the ironies of IBS is that you may experience both constipation and diarrhea. These opposite sensations are confusing and frustrating, but they are common symptoms of IBS (Source: IBS Treatment Center).
If you are experiencing symptoms of IBS, don’t suffer in silence. You are not alone in your struggle, so make an appointment with your doctor. With proper diagnosis and treatment, you can begin enjoying life again.