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Author Topic:   How do you explain to your friends?

Posts: 9
Registered: Mar 2000

posted 03-14-2000 07:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kristi_18   Click Here to Email Kristi_18     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi,this is my first posting.I am still in highschool and have had Irritable bowel syndrome for the last year.I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on how I could explain Irritable Bowel syndrome to aqquaintances?(my close friends know)How can I bring this up? I hate having this,and I am so envious of all my friends who don't realize how lucky they are!!!


Posts: 15
Registered: Feb 2000

posted 03-14-2000 08:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marilyn34   Click Here to Email Marilyn34     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would stretch the truth just a little, and tell people that you have colitis. IBS used to be called spastic colitis, or spastic colon, in the old days. Symptoms are similar, except of course, real colitis is more severe, and usually gets progressively worse.
I know from experience that people have very little sympathy or understanding for IBS, and consider it to be a psychological disorder. (Well, maybe it is, but that doesn't make it any the less real!)
Good luck to you, and I hope you will not let this stop you. Most of us "bite the bullet", so to speak, and get out there regardless! Just make sure that you locate a bathroom immediately, no matter where you go! Then you will feel more secure, in case you get that sudden urge.
I remember when I was younger and used to go to the beach with friends. I would never go, if they wanted to go to one of those remote beaches without public bathrooms. Just knowing there isn't a bathroom handy, can make me have to go immediately!


Posts: 54
Registered: Sep 99

posted 03-14-2000 08:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for kwilim   Click Here to Email kwilim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a thread that could be helpful.



Posts: 15
Registered: Feb 2000

posted 03-15-2000 12:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marilyn34   Click Here to Email Marilyn34     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kristi - I read the thread from Kwilim, above, and it is certainly a valuable set of suggestions. Everything is true and honest.
Problem is that it takes a certain maturity level in people, to understand or even care, what you are going through.
When I said to tell people you have colitis, I didn't mean that I advocate lying. Just that the term "Irritable Bowel Syndrome", is such an UGLY term. Why did the originator of that term come up with such a disgusting name? (obviously a doctor)
What I meant in my post above, was to SOFTEN the term a little, by just saying you have a FORM of colitis, that comes and goes, and has a life of it's own. That you have to be always vigilant, and prepared to find the nearest bathroom.
There is no need to go into detail or to be specific with the truth. I can see where young people would be turned off, by the words, Irritable Bowel. I wish they still used the old diagnosis of years ago, which was Spastic Colitis.


Posts: 21
Registered: Mar 2000

posted 03-17-2000 01:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for connielj     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi, Kristi -

I have lived with IBS for over 20 years, and understand totally your concerns about how to explain this condition to others. It is embarassing, to say the least.

Do you know whether or not you are lactose intolerant (your body lacks the ability to digest milk protein found in dairy products)? Often, people who have IBS are. If so, that is often a more "understandable" explanation for people who usually have never even heard of IBS.

From my own experience, I recommend that you do all that you can to educate yourself about IBS. There are lots of good websites to go to with information on this condition. Knowledge usually makes things easier to live with.

There are many things you can try from a diet standpoint to help: avoiding high-fat foods, eating too much at a meal (stick to small portions), avoid lots of sugar and caffeine, artificial sweeteners, too much fiber (you don't want to exclude it all together, but find out what you can tolerate), and dairy products (if you are lactose intolerant, and there are enzymes which you can buy to help with that).

These are just a few of the "general" things that apply to many people with the D-form of IBS.

Last, but not least, there is a psychological factor (which I believe is also common in the D-form of most people with IBS). It is the fear of being somewhere without a bathroom near. The power of suggestion is enough to cause an attack. (People who have IBS have digestive systems which are oversensitive to "cues" from the brain. They often feel pain in their digestive system that people with IBS do not, and pain alone can bring on an attack).

For this aspect of it, I recommend that you talk to your parents and/or doctor about some of the new prescription drugs which are available. There is a new one out called Lotronex (which you have probably already read about on this board). It sounds very promising, as it works by blocking messages from the brain to nerves in the digestive system. According to another person on this board, her doctor told her that it does this without causing a dry mouth or "drugged" feeling, which has been my objection with many of the IBS drugs in the past. I plan to try Lotronex myself, and hope it is something which does not have to be taken day in and day out to be effective.

Know that you are not alone, and that there are many things you can do to learn to live with this condition, without feeling a "helpless victim" to it. Hopefully, some of the advice you read about on this board will make a difference, to the point that it won't be necessary to "explain" to anyone.

Take care...

- Connie


Posts: 40
Registered: Mar 2000

posted 03-17-2000 04:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Zobiana     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Kristi!

Hang in there!

I've told my close friends that I have IBS, most understand but sometimes they get annoyed when I cancel plans due to diarrea. The truth is, I don't feel guilty, I have an illness, and they have to accept it. If I had epilepsy and had a seizure, people would be sympathetic, I think it should be the same with IBS.

For people I don't know that well or who aren't as close, I just tell them that I have an intestinal problem and leave it at that. If people who you aren't close to (or comfortable with) begin to ask you more questions, in my opinion, that's rude. I just tell them that its personal.

I can understand though, that being in highschool, it might be difficult to explain. Thankfully, I only developed this in my 20's. My advice is tell people what you are comfortable telling them. It is your personal business and you don't have to divulge any medical information to everyone who asks.


Posts: 12
Registered: Jan 99

posted 03-17-2000 11:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for joni     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just tell people I have something like an allergy to some foods, or I say I am sensitive to some things in different kinds of food. They know I cannot eat cheese, so some of them think I am lactose intolerant (which I am not--it is just the fat in milk that makes me sick--skim milk is great!) and I do not correct them all the time. Yes, IBS sounds like a horrible term...just to make you laugh, my brother is taking Propecia to grow hair, and I tell him it sounds like a horrible skin condition!

If people know that there are specific things that make you sick, they usually get a clue and ask you what you want to eat before assuming you will go out with them for pizza or Chinese. The scary thing is eating at the home of someone you DON'T know too well......half of my family is in Germany and we never know what they will serve us over there. I have learned the art of saying "It is such a lovely evening, do you mind if I enjoy this outside?" and then I dump the food in a shrub.

I hope you are doing well! Hang in there!



Posts: 9
Registered: Mar 2000

posted 03-19-2000 09:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kristi_18   Click Here to Email Kristi_18     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you everyone for your advice!Yes,I am lactose intolerant,and my friends know that cause I always have to pick the cheese off my pizza and I can never eat ice cream.

Well this week I was kind of proud of myself because I told my whole team about my irritable bowel syndrome.We were at a stay away tournament and had to share rooms(meaning,one bathroom for the four of us)So I had to say something.They were all really great about it.I told them about it in the dressing room before the game,and threw in a gross story about going to a gastrointestinologist(yikes don't know if that is the right word)so they laughed at that.My IBS was pretty good the whole time except for one morning,but my roomies were cool and left me in the room for an hour while they went down to breakfast.

I feel much better now that I told them,it was embarassing but really worth it.Now when I am not feeling well before a game I can be honest and they will be understanding.

My goal is to tell all of my friends about this freaking IBS before the summer,I think I'll be more embarassed to tell some of my guy friends,but oh well gotta live with this thing.I mean I am healthy except for this and I am very thankful for that!!!

I have been reading all the posts and they have really helped me,thank you


Posts: 62
Registered: Feb 2000

posted 03-21-2000 09:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dima     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Kristi! I'm in HS too. I have been going to school everyday for the past two and a half school years with IBS. My best friend knew I had a problem, but didn't bother to ask. He just understood that I had a problem and knew that I was the same person before I got this bug. Only this past week he asked me what was the problem and I explained to him that I had IBS(in my experience, even more educated people don't know about intestinal problems). If the people really care about you, IBS will make no difference. Keep your chin up because we don't have it the worst. I sent you an email, write back please.
Your friend,

All times are ET (US)

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