Early IBS - Any Suggestions?

Hey everyone,

I'm a 16 year old and new here, and have just been diagnosed with IBS by my GP. I have had the bloating, the extreme abdominal pain and the constant need to use the loo in the morning for a while now. I have had my blood test taken, did urine samples (to eliminate infections), was sent for an ultrasound as well as an MRI scan. The MRI scan was all clear, an all I was told at the ultrascan was that I am 'extremely windy'. I wake up in extreme pain, struggling to get out of bed and ready for college and being a nerd I enjoy going. It brings me to tears every morning, I am a positive person but I can feel this getting me down already. I'm so worried about going out incase I have to rush to the loo, feel so prisoned.

I've been reading through this page for a while now, looking at what everyone is suggesting for others, seeing if I can relate. I know for sure that garlic and chocolate are major triggers for IBS symptoms, so I stay well clear of that. I'm also checking constantly foods, and have stopped with fizzy drinks or sweets (thought I'm an active lass, I go gym and swimming up to four times a week).

I'm not sure where to start with everything. Frankly, I am lost and unsure. Can any of you suggest how to get through this without slipping into depression and bad anxiety? I enjoy going out, but feel like that's going to end soon. Any helpful information is very appreciated.

26 Replies

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  • Hi there,

    Firstly, sorry to hear that you are going through a tough time. I was only 15 when I was diagnosed so I know what it's like to get the diagnosis young! I'm in my mid-twenties now and I will say that it gets easier to manage as you get older, in my experience, because you just get to know your body better and what things are likely to be triggers for you. It's a very personal thing and everyone's symptoms are very different (my mum and I both suffer, but in very different ways!).

    In the short term, I would suggest trying to keep a food diary to see if you can identify any specific triggers- could be something really bizarre that you wouldn't necessarily think of so keep an open mind! Maybe go back to your GP and explore the possibility of medication- I have personally never found one that helps me, but it's worth a try!

    Regarding the anxiety/depression, I am no stranger to that either- my anxiety is not specifically related to my IBS but the two definitely affect each other! I have previously sought help in the form of CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which I have found to be extremely beneficial. Main thing is to never be ashamed of seeking help when things get tough and being prepared to try different approaches until one is right for you.

    There is a light at the end of the tunnel! All the best to you xx

  • What do you do in CBT exactly? I suffer from anxiety (which is made worse by my IBS) but I've never sought out treatment for it..

  • It's a goal-driven approach, so it's all about giving you the stategies you need to be able to cope without therapy. For me there was a lot of focus on changing the unhelpful thought patterns that I can get locked into and ways to help self regulate if I feel myself becoming very anxious .

  • Yeah, keeping a food diary is something I am doing, and my GP has given me 'Buscopan' but I feel like it is not doing anything, and am taking two four times a day like perscripted. I am a very independant person, but maybe seeking help and using CBT might be a good thing for me to do. Thank you! x

  • I get what you mean about the independence thing. Took me a long time to be ready to get help but it was one of the best things I ever did!

  • I will have to give it some thought, but seeing it has positive outcomes is a booster. x

  • You could get an IBS card which you can show in shops if you need to go and they should let you use their loo. also you could get a radar key.

    Another thing keep immodium instants to hand. i manage to keep two in my phone case. hope this may be of some use. also have some peppermints to hand. if you get worried suck one and it helps settle stomach due to the peppermint oil. try buscipan for the pain and cramps

  • That's helpful, as going out is one of the main worries incase I need the loo, would you possibly be able to link me where I can retrive this from? I did not know about immodium instants, and will definitely try those. I have been advised with peppermint oil, but did not think of having peppermints to hand. Thank you! x

  • If you find Imodium bloats you, try half a tablet. A whole one will usually mess up my guts for days and I'll pay the price later, but a half tablet seems to be enough to stop the super urgency.

  • Thank you! x

  • I feel for you a lot! I'm nearly 19 and can relate a lot to your issues. I'm nerdy too and freak out when I miss work and falling behind and have had to alter a lot of what I wanted to do as a career because of it. There's just a few things I wish I'd known back when I was first diagnosed around your age and hope it'll help you.

    Firstly it's a condition you'll have to live with that has no quick fix, unfortunately. As much as seeking out what exactly 'it' is is helpful in-terms of possible solutions and actually telling people its this official titled 'thing' which brings a sense of finality and justification for things like absence from school, with time you may have to settle with the more blanket term IBS which is something a lot of us have to do. I would often battle into school in pain because I was scared other's would find out causing embarrassment or that it wasn't considered that 'much of a big a deal' or just a 'tummy ache' and wasn't a good enough reason to fall behind. I don't know if you have this problem, but with time I've realised you should completely expected of others to accept this condition as it is; a unpredictable often unexplainable thing that affects your life greatly. Don't be scared or embarrassed to explain to others like school about your problem and maybe go in to talk about how to manage work stress e.g home work. This helped me greatly as after a talk like this I was allowed to bring home work in later, change my time table e.g not go in on mornings I had bad reactions, and had teachers e-mail me work very regularly. I kept on top of work successfully and the stress of falling behind became less of a factor and triggered IBS less often. Your school should be as accommodating to your needs as possible, don't feel like you are a nuisance!

    And secondly, you can make it! Whatever you hope to become it is achievable. There will be times when you feel that you are falling behind or not good enough but with the right, realistic strategy and plan it is possible. With time it would help to surround your self with people that understand like a friend that organises events with easy accessible toilets.

    Lastly, try some anti-spasmodic, try FODMAP diet, keep a food diary, try lots of baths to relax, try something like a heat pad to go into school with and always have something positive to look forwards to, like a concert or cinema.

    Hope this is helpful, and please don't give up!

  • I feel like already I can relate to you a lot, thank you. To get into college, two days of the week I have to be awake at 5 to get the bus for 7, (I have to give myself time to eat and do make up) and it is just my worst days. I struggle to get out of bed and do anything. The school were aware of my MRI scan and am supposed to be catching up with my tutor to let her know. Definitely something that I have to consider, as the mornings are the worst for me.

    The big dream is to be a journalist, but it all depends on how well I do with this BTEC course and if I manage to get into Uni. I get exactly what you mean.

    Thank you so much x

  • I'm glad I could help a bit! As I said before, and others, telling friends, family and school might be hard at first but I found it very helpful. Sharing your goal of journalism with collage might be helpful, if you haven't all ready done so, so you can work together on a plan that would help you all out. Teachers/ lectures usually (if they're good!) want the best for you and they might be worrying about your future as well, so a plan of action might bring them reassurance that you are not giving up. If the BTEC course is assessment based maybe try and arrange a different day/ time to do the assessments e.g afternoons rather than morning. Managing work in small but regular bites might help in stead of tackling large amounts of work in that intense two days.

    Is there at all a different way of getting you into collage or a different way of getting ready? Waking up at 5 am is a bit bonkers! Tiredness is a symptom of IBS because flare ups often interfere with the intestines' ability to absorb food and thus energy. Losing sleep/ resting time is something you should try and stop as much as possible, and in stead rationing your energy levels and prioritising what you really need to do is important. Rest/ relax/ sleep as much as you can! I'm called the-sloth because that's what's what I do! Often before going on a night out I'll sleep between 4-7 /8pm to have enough energy for the night out (much to my friends' amusement!)

    You will be able to do things and reach your goals like everyone else, just with the right plan of action. You can do the fun things too like I went to loads of festivals over the summer- dodgy toilets, no sleep, cold, wet tents- I thought I'd never be able to do it, but again with planing and help from others it was all very easy and great!

    Be kind to your self and your tired body!

    Keeping in touch with this forum helps as it as helped me immensely over the last week bymreading other peoples experiences.

    I hope this will help and good luck x

  • This is so helpful however since I was told I have IBS I've been constantly worried about getting ill coz my triggers are food and then I'll get ill over worrying about it. I want to talk someone but to me I think people probably have it so much worse so I shouldn't go and ask for advice/help. I am 14 so I have people to go to at school but what should I ask my mum?

  • First don't worry! You will find your triggers, in the mean time tell all your immediate family and as much of other people e.g teachers as you feel comfortable. Your family might find it odd to not give you certain foods or that you disappear to the toilet for a while but they'll understand after a while.

    It is serious and definitely go for advice. Try antispasmodics from the doctor and try FODMAP diet. Just by looking at the network you'll see how it affects different people differently. Sometimes it's a rare flare up, sometimes it's more constant, but it's always something that's serious and to be thought of that way. Your health and well being is a priority to family, school and your self. I highly recommend talking to school about it (maybe starting with biology teacher who might understand a bit better) and getting a plan that suits you and them in a time when there's a flare up. Stress is a trigger in it's self and keeping it under control is important, and is something you deserve. Relax loads!

    If you want to talk you can message me here if you like, or talk to your GP or a therapist in school if one is available.

    Good luck,

    The sloth

  • I have told those at home, they are all aware and cook meals depending on me at the moment. I am still looking at all the advice and different types of things I can do. Thank you, it would be fab to talk :) x

  • It's going to be a trial and error process, and unfortunately it takes time to start to figure things out. FODMAPS as mentioned worked pretty well for me, but you may have other food triggers as well. Regular exercise has helped me reduce stress, I find running and yoga have been the best.

    I've also found it valuable to be open and honest with my condition to my friends, family and work. Most people don't really know the many symptoms of IBS, and it helps to share some of them. For example, at work if I'm having a bad flare-up and I have meetings all day I let my colleagues know to continue without me if I leave the room suddenly. In your case you might need some academic concessions to write your exam alone but near a toilet so you can go as you need.

    It seems embarrassing at first, but it's not that bad. In fact I've had a lot of people ask me questions because they're curious and think they might have IBS. I suspect poo problems are more common than we think.

  • Yeah, it will of course take a while for me to know what is good and what is bad for me. I already go gym, so think the exercise will continue to do me some good. Yeah, the college is going to be made aware, so I have the availability of using the loo, it's a pretty laid back college but I get what you mean. Yeah it does seem embarassing, but there's nothing we can really do about it. They probably are x

  • You can ask your doctor to refer you to a fodmaps specialist. And see if they will let you try Mebeverine (not sure if its the same as buscopan). I also keep Imodium instants in my bag. And take half if I feel my guts starting to grumble whilst I'm out. Get yourself a need to go card and a radar key. If you go to the ibs network online they sell both. That way you can use the disabled toilets if you need to go.

  • I will ask my GP, and I will check it out. Thank you x

  • hello, I've had ibs since I was very young and I do agree it does get easier to manage as you get older and you get to know your body. Anxiety, worry, stress are all major triggers for my IBS. I did CBT too and it does help a lot so I would recommend giving it a try. One thing I absolutely swear by is peppermint tea! I didn't like the taste when I first tried it but I kept having it and I added some sugar and now I quite like it. If I'm bloated and gassy it helps. If I start with stomach cramps a lot if the time it alleviates them and I don't end up on the toilet with diarrhoea. If I had a bad toilet session lol the peppermint tea soothes my tummy afterwards. So definitely give it a try. I also take medicinal charcoal, that works well to get rid if gas, though it does turn your stools black if you take it everyday so don't panic. Don't lose heart, you can manage this and still accomplish all of your dreams :) xx

  • Peppermint tea is on my list, since tomorrow I am going into town again I will look at purchasing some, any you recommend specifically? (brand wise) Thank you! x

  • I think any brand should do the trick. I tend to use twinnings because I find its stronger than cheaper brands but generally the longer you leave the tea bag in the stronger it gets xx

  • Thank you!

  • I have had it since I was your age and I am now 64. Best thing is not to get to down about it life will carry on you just have to learn how to cope. My factors are mostly stress not food. Just leaving the house is sometimes enough to set it of but you have to learn to cope. Hope you lead a good life. Good luck.

  • I think that once I have identified what triggers it the most I will be better, it's just knowing exactly what it is that makes it hard. I've had to call into work saying I cannot come in because the bloating was bad, I just couldn't move I had such bad cramps. I'm keeping a food diary, and avoiding as much fast food as possible! (being a student it gets hard sometimes!)

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