New and struggling

Hi, I'm 17 and have just been diagnosed with stress related IBS. I'm going through exams at the moment so this is a particularly stressful time for me.

I'm really struggling with finding ways to cope and have found myself missing out on doing things I really enjoy. For example, I'm in a band and had to miss a gig because my symptoms just got so bad.

I was just wondering if there's anyone out there that has been living with IBS for a while and can give me some advice and tips on how to live a normal life. I'm still getting my head around it and am struggling to remain calm (which is obvioulsy not helping the situation).

Thank you:)

32 Replies

  • Hi I'm 17 too with exams going on and stress-related IBS - just to say I know how you feel and I understand how horrible it is when all your friends are going out and having fun and eating normal food and you just want to be normal :(

    I don't really know how to deal with it properly as I'm sort of in the same position as you but I find sometimes just talking about it with people helps as it does make you feel calmer and it seems more manageable. If it's difficult to talk to people then this forum is great as everyone understands your situation so they can empathise even if they can't offer solutions.

    If you do get any tips on dealing with it let me know! x

  • I have found that talking to people helps:) I usually just make it into a joke and it helps me relax.

    Nice to know that there's someone else out there in a very similar situation:) x

  • Hey, I'm 18 and currently in uni(first year), I've had IBS since I was 15. It does get better. I haven't found a miracle cure, I've tried all the over the counter medicines, and peppermint oil(which apparently helps some people, so try that). I find that stress is my only real trigger, and of course exams is the worst time of year for me, I know it's going to get bad but I just think that once they're over I can get back on track. For most of the year I'm mainly Ok, I may have a week or two where I'm not good at all, if I'm under a lot of stress or something, but I just keep telling myself it'll pass and I'll be alright.

    I think it's a confidence thing, if I don't feel well I'll tell myself to get out and do something for a few hours, and keep building it up, until I'm completely confident to go out whenever I want.

    I know this isn't any real help, none of my friends know I have IBS, and my girlfriend doesn't either. But I've managed it, don't let it take over your life, you're not alone.

  • I bought some peppermint oil capsules last week but have been nervous to try them. I took one this morning but.seeing as I am at home all day I'm not sure I'll notice a difference.

    I have an event coming up that I really want to go to but I'm stressing about whether I'll feel well enough to go. Any advice?

  • I've tried them a few times, I don't think they've really helped me much, I think IBS can be such a psychological issue. But of course make sure you try medicines, but remember that you want to get better (What I mean is I've tried a few things and thought this won't work, it's useless, and that doesn't help my IBS at all).

    The best advice I can give, and I'm not really in a position to! Is to stay positive, for your event, just think what's the worst that can happen, look forward to it and don't dread it, if your unwell or can't go, it won't be the end of the world, but you have nothing to fear.

    Again I'm sorry for the whishy washy mental advice, I know it isn't really much use! But that's all I can suggest, but remember you're not alone, I wish I'd found a site like this when I was 15!

  • Thank you so much! Talking to people has definitely helped, I must say. Most of my close friends know and I did tell my boyfriend but I don't think he really knows what IBS is. I will keep trying different medicines and see which one helps me. I agree that a lot of this is psychological and my doctor has reccomended a couple of websites to me so that I can try and control my anxiety

  • Drink lots of mint tea/ lemon & ginger tea , kaolin & morphine med is the only thing that calms me down , then 2 Alverine pills 3 times a day

  • Always write down what you have eaten in a diary , no food after 4 pm ,

  • I have found that the peppermint capsules were the things that helped me most! They help with the spasms and with keeping you regular. They are natural, so don't worry about trying them!

  • Food is a good place to start - log foods your eating and see if any spark off symptoms and maybe stop eating it for a while. The obvious Ones are gluten and dairy but for me also so is eating fruit and veg or fibre !! We all react differently and yes stress can make you worse.

    If it continues go speak with your gp!

    Good luck in your exams x

  • I have been keeping a food diary for about a month but I'm struggling to indentify triggers. Some days food are fine and others I feel dreadful:/ my gp hasn't been much help recently and has just told me to persevere with the log:/

    Thank you x

  • Bear in mind it might be food you ate 2 days before. Do you eat processed foods much - they contain so many things that can cause ibs. I really hate it myself when we have planned nights out or on holiday and I see far too much of the bathroom and feel guilty about letting people down! I know it can't be helped and I don't want to be poorly but feel I'm to blame so I know how you feel x

  • Ive realised that processed and greasy foods are no good so I try and steer clear.

    I've realised it's mainly anxiety so I think I need to learn how to calm myself down x

  • I've had IBS d for years, anxiety is a big factor for me. Over time I have learned not to worry so much, but that comes with age and doesn't really help you! Try hard to distract yourself. A food diary is always a good thing, but once you have an idea of what upsets you don't get too fixated about it. I had to stop the diary as it drew all my attention to my problems, I ended up being fanatical about filling it in! I couldn't live without Imodium.

  • Learning to distract myself is definitely something I need to work on! I have found that I'm getting slightly fixated on the food diary so maybe I'll stop it for a week and see if it helps me to relax. I'm trying to stay away from medication as I have only just been diagnosed and want to see if there's anything I can do myself before relying on drugs. Distracting myself definitely does help but I find it takes me a while to forget about the problem. Once I have I can carry on as normal.

    Thank you so much for the advice:) x

  • My IBS was mostly pains and cramps in the stomach and rib area. I was studying intensively at the time when it stated. As I was so dedicated to my study I was eating poorly, especially comfort eating. Mince pies, Croissants, steak slice in pastry, meat pies, biscuits anyhow realized Pastry type products was a major contributor to my IBS cramps. Have avoided all this type of products and my cramps are much improved. Doctor also advised to use Mebeverine medicine to treat sympthons (ask your doctor about Mebeverine). I found this medicine very helpful. By the way I was about 40 when sympthons first started.

  • Thanks! I will definitely look into it:)

  • Hi

    I'm 21 and in a similar situation. I am obviously no longer at school, however I miss out on ALOT of things.

    I haven't got my IBS under control properly but I can tell you that trying to follow the FODMAP diet does help me (even though I am in no way as strict on it as I could be)

    From what I have read, garlic & onions can be a couple of the worst things for IBS and that is certainly true for me (Which is a shame as I love both) but I certainly notice that if I eat out or have anything which contains a lot of onions or garlic that my IBS flares up.

    Perhaps try that as a starting point and see if that works for you to try and "tame" your symptoms a bit?

    Oh, and I also just have lacto free milk now, so perhaps give that a go? I have the lacto free whole milk. Tried the soya/almond milk but didn't like it. I find that the lacto free whole milk tastes the same as normal milk, it just has a thinner consistency and I got used to it really quickly.

    Hopefully this might have been a little bit of help. Its worth a try if just avoiding garlic & onions helps you out. Its simple to do and might make things easier for you :) Lauren x

  • Thank you so much:) I'll definitely try staying away from garlic and onion for a while and will have a go with the lactofree milk:)


  • Reckon lactofree milk does help and then after you've stayed off the normal milk for a while it may mean you are ok with it as your tolerance level build up's all a guessing game really ..good luck 👍

  • I find lactose free milk helpful

  • I am 16 and I have IBS which is anxiety driven. I have had it for a few years and it has been copable but since January it has been debilitating and I am feeling nauseous everyday. Can't find any food triggers and have tried lactose free milk and yogurt. Also triode lots of medication and anti sickness meds. I have no social life. Hoping it's better when my AS exams are over . I am losing weight because of the sickness and a dietitian has put me on a high calorie diet-full fat milk, lots of cheese, cakes, crisps which is not what you need with IBS. All I get is everyone is different. Wish there was a magic pill.

  • Have you tried talking to people about it? Now that most of my friends and family know I have found it to be more bearable. I'm quite an open person so telling people wasn't really a problem and I understand that this can be an embarrassing/awkward thing to reveal to others. Honestly, it really does help and I feel like I can go out and socialise without worrying because people understand.

    I hope things get better for you:) x

  • Thanks. I am talking more about it and going for CBT so I am hoping it starts to get better soon.

  • Hi there, I am much older, 58, and have had IBS since 1996 when I had food poisoning i.e. Post Infection IBS. I suffer with IBS C mainly which I think it much better than IBS D. I have tried all sorts but know I cannot eat sweetcorn, raw carrots or onions at all but can eat in very small amounts broccoli and cauliflower. I have been taking Buscupan for the pain but it does nothing so have gone back to Windeze Gel capsules (not so many people stock those) as these capsules used to work for me.

    I also sometimes get nausea with my IBS so take travel sick tablets which seem to work and if I get indigestion I take bicarbonate of soda before the indigestion takes a hold and makes me feel sick. Although the bicarb doesn't taste good it certainly works and is worth it.

    I am going to put myself on a dairy free diet and see what that does as there seem to be a lot of people that cannot eat dairy.

    Also, I find that exercise certainly makes me feel better. If you suffer with IBS D take anti diarrhea tablets as they do tend to work.

    I hope that you feel better very soon.

  • Thank for the response:) I'm not sure whether I have IBS D or C as my symptoms vary a lot. Changing my diet is something that I need to start doing however it is very difficult to do so whilst I'm still at school. I think that my IBS is definitely more of a psychological thing as I have been home for two days and have only had to go to the loo once.

    I think I just need time to get my head around it and I need to learn how to calm myself down in stressful situations. As I mentioned in a previous reply, I have an event coming up on Thursday where I'm playing in a band. I did it last year and I'm really hoping that I'll be okay to do it this week so fingers crossed I'll have some ways to calm myself down. X

  • You are welcome and I have Emetophibia which is a fear of being sick, others being sick, catching a stomach bug etc etc. After all these years - I've had it for many years - I have decided to combat the phobia. I have ordered a book that someone on here used and it worked for them and the reviews for the book are amazing. The programme is called the Thrive Programme but it doesn't only combat Emetophobia - the have programmes for anxiety and other phobias.

    I think that maybe some kind of therapy would be good for you.

    Best of luck

  • I'll definitely look into it! Thank you

  • You are welcome and it's certainly worth it. Best of luck

  • Hi there,

    I had IBS for many years and I have finally beaten it. You might find something on my blog that inspires you. This article may help you understand where your exam stress is coming from and how to handle it better:

    Hope this helps,


  • Thank you so much! That was very helpful and will hopefully get me on my way to relax and cope:) x

  • No bread 5 small meals / snacks thro the day , protein & rice is gud , try baked crisps

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