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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)


Sam Vimes
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Does anyone suffer it? More specifically has anyone tried hypnotherapy as a result?

IBS has been ruling my life for nearly 3 years now, both professionally and personally, and it's holding me back in many areas of my work. I have now been advised to try hypnotherapy as all medication and CBT routes have failed. I just wonder whether or not any other members on here suffer and would share their experiences..?

Truth is it's a massively embarrassing thing to talk about and the circumstances bring a feeling of shame and embarrassment most of the time. It has over the last 3 years radically changed the sort of person I am and I'm at my end the end of my tether in trying to find a solution.

For anyone interested, you can read about how it started for me here, when I submitted a Q&A to The IBS Network a couple of years back...

http://www.theibsnetwork.org/blogitem.asp?blogid=13&title=A_Policemans_Lot

Question I am a 24 year old Police Officer, working a notoriously horrendous shift pattern in a Response role, meaning I will work shifts 24/7 responding to emergency calls. I will be expected to eat as and when I can between jobs, and will very often either go without food altogether or having to rush off during or immediately after a meal to answer a shout. Meals are often consumed at 3 or 4am, only a couple of hours before going to bed, and as much as I try and eat healthily will now and again consist of a takeaway or microwaveable meal. Its not unusual to rush straight away from a meal to end up running or rolling around the floor with someone. Originally I put my symptoms down to this sort of lifestyle at work.

Around 8 months ago whilst on a Public Order shift (deployed out on foot outside nightclubs to deal with the weekend nightlife) completely out of nowhere I had the overwhelming urge to go to the loo, and had much to my embarrassment to nip into a nightclub in uniform and make the most of their facilities. This wasnt the nicest of experiences, trying to get to the loo with all my kit on, surrounded by plenty of anti-Police drunkards. The following day at work I was still suffering from an upset stomach and had to yet again to my embarrassment ask a victim whose house I was at if I could use her facilities also. These are far as I can remember were the first alterations to my otherwise healthy and normal bowel habits.

Now Im aware that IBS is common with shift workers, and I put the upset stomach down to either some dodgy food, being worn out from work, or picking up a sickness bug. After a couple of days of this I saw my GP who said likewise, so I took a week off work as holiday to try and unwind and get a normal body-clock routine for a while.

When I returned to work, I found that my normal bowel movements hadnt returned. I lost appetite, weight (1.5-2.0st in a couple of weeks), and wasnt sleeping. I found I was in a position that at any point during my day when I wasnt busy doing something, out of the blue would come the urge to go to the toilet, however if I could keep my mind busy and not think about being unwell, I would be ok.

A couple of months after this first instance I had a 2-week classroom based course, and did not think my toilet trouble would be of any concern in such an informal and routine environment, however come day one I found myself in the classroom doing nothing but worrying about going to the toilet. I would find myself sitting and willing myself not to get up and walk out, worrying what people would think about me keep getting up and walking out. I found that halfway through day one I had stressed myself out so much I had to leave and as a result was put on sick leave for a week.

The symptoms of upset stomachs continued, not only having them when at work, but also having them when just sat at home on a day off. I would find myself worrying about simple things like going shopping, going to the pub, going out with friends to bars etc, and I found myself taking Imodium beforehand just to try and ensure I would not need the toilet. Every time however, once I got there and whatever I was doing got underway, again I felt fine. I went back to my GP a number of times who attributed shift work, possible allergies etc, and would not refer me to a specialist. I was put on Mebeverine and Peppermint Caps, which I found didnt make much difference.

I tried adjusting my diet, which was fairly healthy anyway. I have never eaten processed food, eat a lot of fruit and veg, and I made changes such as going from full-fat milk to semi-skimmed, cutting down on dairy, and changing my breads. I cut out takeaways and fried foods, and I tried eating 3 square meals at set times as well as 5 or 6 smaller meals throughout the day. I also started using pro-biotic things like yoghurts and Yakult. I increased my exercise throughout the week. None of these changes seemed to make any difference so I went back to eating as I have always done, and still do this.

I now find that I worry in advance and am now manifesting symptoms in myself through what I assume is some sort of stress-related issue. For instance if I have a shift or course coming up at work, I will worry about the toilet aspect of being there, and give myself an upset stomach and cramps etc; when there I cannot concentrate on anything but going to the loo. This is also evident in my personal life; worrying about a night out, playing football etc. Events which Im not stressed or nervous about in the slightest, for some reason have become an issue, and I have no idea why. I wonder if the embarrassing experiences of being caught short at work whilst having something legitimately wrong like a stomach bug have now left me forever worried of being caught short again, and as a result I am stressing myself out.

Does it from what Ive tried to describe sound to you that there is possibly a psychological aspect to my symptoms, given that there doesnt seem to be any medical reason? Does such a thing exist? Or could this be IBS? I would appreciate any advice of suggestions you can think of.

Answer Thank you for your letter, which expressed your illness and the dilemmas it causes very clearly. The description of your pattern of work is enough to get anybodys guts going. The bowel needs time to relax and digest the food you eat. Yours can find itself in panic mode all too easily. The whole cycle has been made much worse by the embarrassing episodes of having to find a loo urgently while on duty. These have added elements of shame and trauma to your symptoms and made you very fearful of the embarrassment of having to go quickly. You may or may not have hd a stomach bug at the time, but the panic/ urgency has become a vicious cycle which can be triggered by any situation where you might feel stuck and exposed to embarrassment.

What can you do about it? Well, from what you write, some of the symptoms seem to be getting better, and it is likely, over time, the problem will improve, but this is likely to occur more quickly if you can break the vicious cycle by avoiding the situations that are more likely to trigger your symptoms or take something that alleviates the problem and restores your confidence. I would suggest you try taking Questran. This is a resin and comes in granules that mop up the bile acids that are incompletely reabsorbed in the small intestine when the guts are gripped by panic, and go on to irritate the colon. Take one sachet 20-30 minutes before the main meal of the day and half a sachet before other meals, but adjust the dose to give you the best response. You can also take Imodium if you need it, but if you take Questran in a dose that suits you, you probably wont need to.

If you are still having problems , do consider seeing a counsellor or therapist for cognitive behavioural therapy.

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I'm on my phone and just about to pop out so can't read the full quoted text. Did they put the camera up your back passage? If so what was the result? As IBS is basically "something is wrong but we don't know what (until the camera goes up)".

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Hi Sam. It is very rare that two forum threads come up in a row that I have experience in - (there is a Vauxhall Vectra one just above yours!)

I am a 23YO Male who has suffered from anxiety induced IBS for 3 years also, following an episode that left me with PTSD in 2009.

Drop me a PM if you would like someone to compare notes with. I haven't tried hypnotherapy but have considered it for a while.

GR.

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Hi Sam. I have a lot of problems with my stomach and my mate who's an a & e nurse does too. I think if its bothering you and affecting your day to day functioning so much then yeah try hypnotherapy or whatever it takes - you've got Togo through treatments like a roundabout sometimes to find something that's suitable.

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I'm on my phone and just about to pop out so can't read the full quoted text. Did they put the camera up your back passage? If so what was the result? As IBS is basically "something is wrong but we don't know what (until the camera goes up)".

Basically after all tests possible from either end (gross), they still don't know, hence the IBS label.

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Have you determined it's not something you're regularly eating that's bringing it on? I have a mild lactose intolerance that I didn't know about until I began having IBS-style symptoms and narrowed it down.

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Done all of that... cut out dairy, changed meal times to eat more less often as well as eating less more often. Stopped drinking tap water, cut out wheat, did more exericise, did less exercise, cut out all fried food and takeaways.

I'm even eating vegetables. Seriously, that's how desperate it's become.

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I had terrible IBS about 9-10 years ago, I now know it was body's way of telling I was on overload and needed to stop!

I had just had a relationship break-up, had to move out, was working in a stressful job dealing with complaints all day every day... You get the picture. I ended up having a break down of sorts, and was left with really bad anxiety for a while.

If I get worried or stressed about something, I tend to get pains in the stomach/intestine area.

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If I get worried or stressed about something, I tend to get pains in the stomach/intestine area.

Same. If I'm stressed I get crippling stomach pain and end up having to go to bed.

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I get IBS when i eat certain products for breakfast, so i have to skip breaky every morning now =/

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Hi all, my Consultant told me I had IBS. Ive been struggling with it for about 3 years now. Nothing seems to help. Tried cutting loads of food out of my diet...but hasnt helped. Are food intolerances then main cause of IBS? Really hoping I can sort it out and it wont stop me joining the Police in the future. Thanks

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Hi all, my Consultant told me I had IBS. Ive been struggling with it for about 3 years now. Nothing seems to help. Tried cutting loads of food out of my diet...but hasnt helped. Are food intolerances then main cause of IBS? Really hoping I can sort it out and it wont stop me joining the Police in the future. Thanks

Don't let it put you off.... you may find it harder work in managing your diet, being more careful about your takeaways and your various 'routines' each day, but it's really quite common amongst regular cops, especially those working shifts. One of my friends is a ARV operator with chronic IBS and he copes... my Sgt has it, as does a PC on my shift, and another PC on another team manages IBS with Crones Disease.

Food intolerances are sometimes mistaken for IBS as the symptoms can be the same; upset stomach, cramping, etc. However if it's purely a reaction then by cutting out what aggravates your stomach, you shouldn't feel the effects. Have you tried any medication? Mebeverine and/or peppering capsules?

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Shouldn't do... admittedly I didn't have it when I joined, but had the misfortune to end up with it as (partly) a result of the shift working.

So long as you've got a handle on it it shouldn't be an issue.

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