Hello my lovely Comfizz readers!
April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness month.
Something I get asked often on my instagram is:
"How can you tell the difference between IBS & IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)?"
Back in October 2020, my friend Courtney & I did a post to summarise this, as you can see in the featured image above.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) & Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) are two different conditions and it is vital that the right diagnosis is made in order to have the best chance of managing and treating either condition.
IBS is classed as a functional gastrointestinal disorder meaning that the bowel function is disturbed. When examining the colon via tests, IBS usually doesn't show up as where as with IBD, the disease can usually be seen when carrying out diagnostic tests and imaging.
With either IBS or IBD, it is important to note that it varies from person to person. There is no set criteria and a "one size fits all" approach can't be taken. It depends very much on the individual and investigations & treatments will vary, as well as to what extent that person's life is affected.
Living with IBS: Courtney's perspective
Courtney has IBS. I asked her to send over a little info on her life with IBS and here is what she had to say:
One thing I wish people knew about IBS is how debilitating it can be. My life often revolves around knowing where the public toilets are and factoring toilet stops. I'm often unwell with it too- flares can last months for me so it can be a tough time. BUT I do want to add that I've been working on managing it and making my life easier when I flare (be with pain patches, medication, diet and looking after my mental health). If you are struggling or having any symptoms then please speak to a doctor."
- Sleep - getting adequate sleep is vital (easier said than done, right?) I find apps such as Headspace which have sleep sounds & take you through techniques such as visualisation can help.
- Talk to a trusted friend & surround yourself with the right people where you can.
- Exercise can help, even if it's just getting out for a walk around the block. On days where I struggle, sitting at a window getting fresh air or in the garden helps. Going for a drive with the window down also can help listening to my music.
- Meditation - this isn't for everyone but is very useful for some.
- Yoga - gentle yoga is a great way to do some low impact exercise. You can even search for yoga to manage stress and yoga that might help alleviate symptoms from either condition on YouTube. Try "Yoga With Adrienne."
- Looking after yourself - self care is vital.
- Engaging with the online community. I've felt less alone thanks to social media and I make sure I don't engage with accounts that have a negative impact on my mental health.
- Singing & song writing.
- Hobbies such as baking or reading.
- Arranging to see a therapist or talk to a doctor.
IBS & IBD: It's not a matter of who has it worse
They are both gut-related conditions & cause symptoms which vary in severity from person to person. BOTH conditions are just as valid, but are both very different from one another. You can also have IBS & IBD together.
The similarities between both are:⠀
- Both chronic gut conditions⠀
- Both can impair quality of life⠀
- Both are manageable but NOT curable⠀
- Both can have similar symptoms (but also different symptoms varying for each individual) ⠀
It's understandable how people may get confused between the two, but it's so important that we recognise & understand the differences properly. Both conditions should be recognised in isolation to one another. People who have IBS and/or IBD deserve the right support around them & it shouldn't be a case of who has it worse. Every person's individual circumstances have a right to be respected and nobody's pain is more valid than somebody else just because they think they might have it worse. It's all relative. To give you another analogy of how to look at this, whether someone drowns in a shallow pond or the sea, it's still drowning. The facts stay the same that they both suffered.
Until next time,