Terrified to Start Work: IBS with Diarrhea

I am very much looking forward to starting work in a week but am terrified about my IBS. I can go for a couple days only being absolutely fine and then will begin to get stomach pains and urges where I have to run out of the room. In this professional job however i can't do this. I am so worried that it will happen, as my stomach rumbles more when anxious.

I already take Imodium but it doesn't always have as much of an effect anymore.

I would be so excited to start this job if it wasn't for this. So if anyone could give any advice on how to avoid anxiety; what food/drink to have and avoid; any supplements to take, i would be so grateful.

Thank you.

17 Replies

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  • Avoid coffee/caffeine. Irritates bladder/gut and can make you more anxious.

  • You are a lot braver than me I have to say firstly. This is the very reason I don't work as much as I would like to because of the fear and anxiety. I am presuming you have explained to your boss the situation beforehand. I think it would take a certain kind of person to employ us as it requires a lot of understanding on there part. I'm sure as long as they are aware of the situation it should be fine but as far as the anxiety I would imagine that would be there for everyone regardless of Ibs. I personally have to have my meals at the same times every day even if that means having to retrain your body. Try to eat an hour before you leave work and do your bathroom needs. I take a probiotic every day also. I. Hope everything works out for you and good luck.

  • Hi i have been diagnosed as IBS-D, i'm seeing a dietitian to help to see what triggers she gave me lists of food which have low fibre, resistant starches and lactose free, at the moment i'm avoiding lactose and resistant starch products, having found lactose ingredients in most strange places, i have found it once in a certain brand of tomato ketchup,

    I have been making my meals from scratch so i know what has been going in, been eating more rice, also the dietitian told me to also avoid seeds and skins as they have fibre and told to reduce my fibre and resistant starch intake.

    I work in security which can be a problem with my IBS-D and i understand where your anxieties are, I'm on start of the lactose diet 3 wks in so far, apart from the diarrhoea bug doing its rounds a few weeks ago, i there is some improvement but i wont know for sure for another week or so, as any change will need time to go through my system,

    i log what happens and what i eat and drink everyday then if i have another bout I track back 2 or 3 days and see what i had to cause, some things with more fibre or resistant starch can take a little longer.

    If i have trouble or have something in i shouldn't as most things I have to read the labels closely, i use the cheap anti diarrhoea capsules or if they don't work same as you then i have the kaolin and morphine solution which in the UK you have to ask for at the chemists, which helps as my Nan still swears by it.

    I really hope all this helps, Good luck

  • Hi I take 2 Imodium every morning and a probiotic capsule also dairy free diet and cut down on gluten seems to work the best for me to go to work also keep imodium in my bag just in case

  • This worked for me for around 8 yrs. Then I took a trip to see a friend for 3 months. I drank only bottled water there but I know the stress of being away from home and an extream event that happened to my daghter, when I felt helpless 1000 miles away. Stress was one of my triggers, also my lactose intollerance turned into a true allergy. I read every label. I can eat soy products, wheat is fine, and most fruits. My best advice is 3 small meals and 3 snacks a day. Adding probiotics, vitamins, minerals with monthly tests by my RH Dr. Along with eating small amts often helps the food digest regularly. I try to have food that I know what is in it. I am not shy when we go out to eat, I ask for the ingredients list or ask them to ask the head cook a certain meal or two for them to be made my way. These help me stay in a controlled time frame, and I now use Questron powder when the "D" flares. So much better than worrying all day long.

  • Dear April

    I have had the same problem!! I stopped going to meetings at work because of the anxiety aspect and it affected my social life and holidays too. All in all I was afraid to go anywhere! I was precribed Sertroline which is a anti-depressant from the doctor and this definitely helps my anxiety which is half the battle!! I also started taking Symprove which is a probiotic drink (not cheap) which appeared in the Daily Mail and also numerous tests at UCH in London. You can Google all this and see the reviews!! Needless to say my life has turned round now and I am still taking Symprove every other day. It is definitely worth a try. Too scared to stop it really as do not want to get those symptoms back. I hope the job goes well for you. You can do it.

  • i CAN'T GIVE AN ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION,ONLY TO SAY THAT i CANT BOOK DAYS OUT,THEATRES OR EVEN HOLIDAYS AS i MAY NOT BE ABLE TO MAKE THE JOURNEY AND THE MORE YOU WORRY THE WORSE IT SEEMS .i HAVE SEEN TWO CONSULTANTS AND THEY BOTH JUST ADVISE TO MANAGE WITH IMMODIUM INSTANTS,WHICH DO EVENTUALLY STOP THE VISITS TO THE LOO BUT I WONDER WHAT IT DOES TO MY BOWEL.iI JOINED THIS FORUM TO GET HELP AND I AM AMAZED HOW MANY PEOPLE SUFFER WITH I B S.,YOU WOULD THINK THERE WOULD BE A LITTLE MORE HELP OUT THERE AND UNLESS YOU HAVE IT I FIND ON THE WHOLE THAT PEOPLE DON'T REALISE HAW DEBILITATING IT IS.FORTUNATELY FOR ME HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING HUSBAND BUT FEEL ITS RUINING HIS LIFE AS WELL JUST AT A TIME WHEN WE ARE BOTH RETIRED AND THE WORLD IS OUR OYSTER BUT BECAUSE OF ME ITS MORE LIKE PRISON.HOWEVER ON MY " GOOD DAYS " I TRY AND MAKE THE MOST OF IT.

  • The thing with IBS is that everyone is different so it's a case of trial and error! When you try any reccomendations while at work, you may still have symptoms and bad days but keep the faith that something you try will work! If you stress too much about the IBS while at work or how it affects you at work, your symptoms will worsen which then becomes a never ending cycle of pain and worry. I know it's easy to say "don't worry about it so much" (which is what I was told by one doctor) but I've been there and I know it's awful. I was forced to quit my job a few years ago because of my IBS due to the constant loo breaks, A+E visits and days off sick and one 7 month period where I was signed off whilst having investigations. I can say I did not have my symptoms well controlled back then because I didn't understand how my body was affected but I do feel I have it better controlled now. I didn't go back into work, I chose to go to uni while I was getting everything under control, but I still have really bad days where I can't leave my house; I often miss one or two days of uni a week because of it but my uni is luckily very accommodating.

    The meds I take are loperamide, codeine, amitriptyline, buscopan and I'm also on lansoprazole and metformin for other things. I have IBS-D and have had all the tests, tried all the diets (gluten, lactose, fodmap), all the dietary changes and all the medications that were available to me. I was on the Symprove trial at King's College Hospital in London and while it works wonders for 2/3 people, it was a complete flop for me. The above medications plus a low insoluble fibre diet and a multivitamin daily are what work for me. It's nothing special at all really! I also had stress management which is a sort of CBT therapy because I suffered with stress and anxiety because of the IBS at work and that helped a lot! I honestly feel that if I hadn't done it, I'd still be a nervous wreck! I know my tried and tested stuff is different to ones others suggested but I'd try anything if it meant I'd get some respite! Hope this helps somehow and I really hope that your job goes well!!

  • Thank you very much everyone, I will give a low-fibre diet a try. And continue to avoid caffeine and alcohol. The idea of taking a probiotic everyday is also great so i'll begin doing that. Taking anti-diarrhoeal tablets daily is something I thought about but I wonder if your body would eventually become immune?

    Sadly I did not have the courage to tell my employer as I really wanted the job and I didn't want this to put them off hiring me even though it shouldn't have. Working on the phones where I can't just disrupt the call is worrying though.

    Thanks very much everyone!

  • Good luck with your new job and I hope you enjoy it. Well done.

  • The FODMAPs regime has worked wonders for me - very few IBS symptoms left and these are lessening every day. On the whole I am about 90% better than I was just a very short time ago and have a normal life again. For full info, paste this address into your web browser:

    med.monash.edu/cecs/gastro/...

    where you'll find the diet fully explained. You can also download a terrific iPhone app from the site which is indispensable for quick food references.

    I also found Patsy Catsos's book 'IBS-Free at last immensely helpful.

    Keep us all posted on your progress!

  • As far as I'm concerned my boss doesn't need to know. I have suffered for 5 years and and proud to say I have managed to only take about 2 days off due to my IBS. Having hit a dead end with every GP and popped every pill going to have none make a difference I have come to realize only I can sort it out. I see it as me Vs tummy! If you are worried you are going to have an attack more than likely you will!

    I am ashamed to say when I was first diagnosed I handed it by not eating. If my stomach and bowel are empty nothing to cause a problem. I would only eat when I didn't have work to anywhere important to go. Not a good approach! I started forcing myself to eat at the same time everyday and forcing myself to still go to work/ Uni etc. If you just mope about feeling miserable tummy has won and feeling miserable will probably trigger an attack as well!

    Personally I wouldn't never now rely on medication like immodium your body will get used to it and when you get a really bad attack they will now longer be effective. Diet and attitude are the only solution, you gotta find foods that work for you. You wouldn't believe how much you can achieve if you don't let your IBS rule your life!

  • As you can probably deduce from the replies , IBS is very much an individual illness , one which the doctors are very reluctant to diagnose, and shoebox . Although there are millions of us out there, we all have are own needs, which can make it a very lonely illness as there is no one size, fits all, remedy , one which we can share with 100% confidence, no one pill solution. I wont rattle on about my symptoms, needless to say they relate to all the above comments, and wont suit you.

    But if I can give you some advice , then firstly, dont be afraid of it, it is going to be part of you for the rest of your life, so get used to it. Secondly , find out you triggers.......is it milk, or pasta maybe ?......even something like a slice of bread ? Until you work these triggers out, then your symptoms will persist, or keep on returning. I tried high/ low fibre , no dairy , no carb's...and then one day I cut out bread, and I realised I had found my trigger. Since then I have cut out wheat / gluten from my diet and I can just about get by in day to day life.

    It takes a few months of hard work and patience, but it's worth it in the end. It will catch you out once and a while, as it probably has most people on here, we all weeken at some point, and eat something we know is going to make us ill, but maybe thats the wake up call we need.

    Be positive and stay focused on your diet/ triggers, and hopefully you will be in control of it, and not vice -versa. Good luck !

  • Im exactly like you can go a couple of days being fine then boom really bad day or so..running to the loo cant leave the house til almost lunchtime unless i get up very very early!!

    Ive recently removed all gluten/wheat and lactose from my diet..its taken nearly 4 weeks and a lot of patience but im feeling like things are starting to improve.. im seeing a dietician this month re doing the low fodmap diet..ive found that certain foods trigger an attack for me. onions, garlic, tomatoes, broccoli, oranges, yoghurts..being some of them i used to eat all the time plus lots of pasta, I now have wheat free pasta and thats ok. I hate soya milk so use lacto free made by arla and can be found in the usual chill milk aisle in supermarkets, they also do a nice vanilla icecream :)

    Good luck in the new job, of course stress and nerves all play a big part in our tummys reactions so goes without saying to try and find a way to unwind and chill out that suits you.

  • Dear April, I run my own business. I have had IBS and Ulcerative Colitis for 20 years. I used to worry and stress about how I would get throught the working day. As I got older I decided to tell everyone (my employees, my clients...) about my condition. Since then it iz much less stressful and everyone understands when I get up and leave in the middle of the meeting. You will feel less stressed if you are open and honest about it. As an employer myself, I always want to know if people have health problems so I can plan in case of a problem. Good luck with the new job!

  • I understand how you feel April. I had a terrible time of it having to walk through a large open plan office space to reach the toilet. However, I have found the FODMAPS diet immensely helpful (RozB mentions it earlier), and all those sorts of problems have gone away for me. I have to prepare my own food, and I still get problems when this is not possible, such as travelling for a meeting. I hope you are enjoying your new job!

  • Good luck in your new job I worked for 20 yrs in the health service suffering from ibs d not easy by any means but working can also be a distraction, hopefully in time you will be able to disclose your bis has you gain confidence and make new friends you might be surprised how many other people are in them sameg boat. I found when I was working (retired now )most of the staff I worked with were very understanding and not just because they where nurses I worked in an eye unit only, and several also had ibs. Please take heart. I have had ibs for 27 yrs and I am 60 yrs old now.

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