In this article I will talk about irritable bowel syndrome specifically IBS-D which manifests itself in loose bowel movements or alternating diarrhea and constipation. I will not talk about IBS-C which appears to manifest itself in solely bloating and constipation.
If you have landed on this page it will be because you like many millions of others have either been trying to self diagnose your condition or more likely that you are looking for a cure. I must warn you in advance, although I have an academic background I am not a medical health professional and you should always consult a doctor before embarking on any form of treatment however mild.
In this article I will be covering my battle with IBS for approximately 10 years and how I finally found a cure that works. Everybody has a different story when it comes to IBS-D but as I found out, we all have something in common. I will go on to discuss this in the following paragraphs but I just want to start by saying a little bit about me.
About 10 years ago I was a young university graduate and decided to join a job that first seemed exciting with infinite possibilities. I soon learned that this job was very stressful and required a 24 hour commitment. I didn't have a problem with working hard but I had a problem with my work environment. Many people at work were miserable, anxious, and horrible to one another and constantly testing their bodies to the limit. It seemed the norm to be constantly stressed out, have a poor diet and feel like you had no control over your life. My work was my life and my life was nonexistent.
Within a few months I started to come into work and make my way straight to the toilet. As any sufferer of IBS-D will known this meant constant diarrhea. It didn't matter what I ate or drank I would always have diarrhea. It was not uncommon for me to visit the toilet three or four times a day having eaten little to nothing and immediately have diarrhea.
Slowly I just got used the feeling and for whatever reason I thought nothing more of it. As soon as I would eat I would not feel at ease until I had gone and empties my bowels after which I immediately felt better. Along with the diarrhea I would lose water from my body which I never had time to replace so I looked like a dried out prune. Over 5 years I continued to do this to my body hoping that I would find a better role in my job and finally this would all stop.
It certainly did not go away in fact into my 6th year of IBS-D suddenly out of nowhere I started getting debilitating cramps followed immediately by diarrhea. I would have these cramps 5-10 times a day and would literally need to run to the toilet or feel like I was about to soil myself. This made it difficult to be effective at my job which then created a vicious cycle causing my IBS-D to completely go out of control.
I suddenly thought that I had developed cancer and stated reading everything on the internet about what disease matched up with my symptoms. I found quite a few which is why self diagnosis is not such a wise idea. I went to my doctor and we stated off with a course of antibiotics as he thought I might have developed in infection after an episode of food poisoning.
This didn't have any lasting effect and soon I was back to him demanding more in depth tests. This started a with a breath test to rule out food allergies and went onto multiple blood tests to eventually eliminating ulcers, colitis, coeliac disease, Crones disease gut infections, etc. I then went to the next and final step which was endoscopy of both the upper and lower digestive tracts. This all came back negative too. Finally I was diagnosed with severe IBS-D. In one way I was relieved to know that I didn't have something like colon cancer but at the same time I was depressed thinking IBD apparently has no cure.
The next chapter of my life involved trailing a long list of medicines in the hope that they would resolve this issue. Now I want to tell you that of the drugs that I took, there are many people out there that rave about some of these drugs and what it has done for them. That is great as everyone's body is different and what works for you may not work for me.
I am addressing the huge numbers of sufferers worldwide who like me have tried everything under the sun and were unable to find a cure. Now the following is a non exhaustive list of drugs which I tried and the results by their side.
Fibre (ineffective) Made things worse
Pre & Probiotics (ineffective) At first seemed promising but quickly stopped working
Drinking Lots of water (ineffective) Made things worse
Exclusion diet (ineffective) Some foods like cheese, chocolate, spice made my IBS worse but exclusion of all the culprits did not resolve matters.
Anti Spasmodic (ineffective) Lots of different brands but all useless
Imodium (ineffective) Helped a little with the diarrhea but certainly not the cramps
Tri Cyclic Anti Depressant (ineffective) Has a drying up effective at first but quickly runs out
Hypnotherapy (ineffective) Very insightful and relaxing but not enough by itself
At this point the consultant G.I specialist had run out of ideas and I was left to suffer on my own.
Having done countless hundreds of hours of research I came across the answer. In Islam we believe that for every single disease God has made a cure so go seek it.
These are my opinions on IBS-D;
IBS-D will not kill you, it can easily be treated and there is nothing seriously wrong with you
IBS-D Is a functional disorder which is caused 99% by stress be it conscious or subconscious
IBS-D can only ever be treated by dealing with the cause behind the problem and not the problem itself
IBS-D affects people generally in the Western world where the 24/7 lifestyle and pressures of society cause people to be stressed out beyond limits and this is often brushed off as mild anxiety or depression.
So here is the magic bullet you have all been waiting for that worked for me and if my concept is correct should work 100% without fail for genuine IBS-D sufferers.
First accept that you have IBS-D because you are under pressure consciously or subconsciously and this is your body's way of warning you that enough is enough.
I spoke to my G.P and asked for Venlafaxine XL which is an SNRI antidepressant. I choose this specifically because it had constipation as one of its side effects; it was a powerful antidepressant and reduced visceral hypersensitivity.
Within 6 months at 150mg a day I had completely 100% recovered from any symptoms of IBS-D.
So how did it work? It is simple; the vicious cycle of stress, followed by cramps followed by diarrhea was broken. I no longer worried every time I went out if I had been food poisoned or where the nearest toilet was. It just let me get on with life without thinking about IBS and soon I was able just stop worrying about IBS and that is it.
Every single person reacts differently to different antidepressants so try them and see which one works best for you. Whilst you are on them you could try using hypnotherapy to make you understand that if you take the stress away then you break the cycle. It's your thoughts that control your bowels. Controlling your thoughts will help control you're IBS but as I said before hypnotherapy is ineffective on its own.
The only other drug that I have used when coming off Venlafaxine was a benzodiazepine called Alprazolem, brand name XANAX. In the UK this is not prescribed on the NHS so you will have to get it by private prescription. This drug can be addictive but if you have good self control it is an excellent drug to use on a controlled as needed basis. One tablet of 0.5 mg and I would be saying what IBS? You have to be very very careful not to increase your dose or develop a habit for this drug. You should also know it can develop tolerance and so you will then need to start increasing your does. Use it like it is supposed to be used as a treatment for IBS and not recreationally for you pleasure and you will have no problem.
Finally I'd like to conclude by saying that if I didn't have God in my life I probably would have given up long ago. Now I have my life back and am free from IBS-D. God always gave me hope so never give up the search for treatment and treatment starts with knowledge of your condition. So don't make the mistakes I made and loose ten years of your life before realising that we are all human and we all have breaking points. If you have gone past that breaking point your body will tell you one way or another so listen to your body.