Hope for Silent Sufferers

I was a teenager when I first started having symptoms. At first, we thought it was a virus, but then it happened again a few weeks later. And then again a few months after that. It would come and go, and for years, I just lived with the symptoms.

We didn’t have a name for IBS back then, and I didn’t know anyone else who had it. It was just something I had to deal with. There was no warning and no rhyme or reason for the episodes.

road trip

My symptoms got worse when I was in college, and it was quite embarrassing at times. IBS episodes could take me away from group activities for 30 minutes. I never knew when I was going to have an attack, so it was impossible to plan around them.

Road trips were the worst. I will never forget the time I was traveling with some college friends who I didn’t know very well. I had to ask them to stop at the nearest rest area. When I returned to the car, everyone was as gracious as possible, but I was mortified.

I played around with diet and tried to figure out the triggers, but I never could really predict what would bring on my episodes. Stress definitely plays a part in the cycle, but I never sought medical help or tried any medications.

These days we know that Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a serious GI issue that affects the large intestine (colon) and commonly causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. There is no cure or known cause for IBS, and it’s a condition that impacts an estimated 20% of American adults.

I lived with IBS through much of my adult life. It wasn’t until I discovered the benefits of real food and probiotics that I started seeing a decline in my episodes. Kicking my soda habit and eliminating fast food from my diet definitely seemed to help reduce the frequency and severity of my symptoms. It makes sense that they increased during my college years because that’s when my diet was at its worst. Going gluten-free a few years ago was the final tweak that freed me from most of the residual symptoms.

I didn’t change my diet in hopes of relieving my IBS symptoms, but I was delighted when I realized they were diminishing along with the other health issues I was having. Nowadays my IBS symptoms are mild.

There isn’t a one size-fits-all-solution when it comes to managing chronic gastro conditions, but I am living proof that there is hope for people suffering from IBS.

If you have IBS, you’re not alone. While up to 20% of American adults have IBS symptoms, most never seek medical help for it. The peak of onset is usually between 8 and 14, but most people aren’t diagnosed until after age 30. It’s not a pretty subject to talk about, but I’m hoping that by discussing it here, I can encourage people who are suffering quietly to seek help for their symptoms. Diet changes can help, and some IBS sufferers find relief in a product called VSL#3.

VSL#3VSL#3 is a high-potency probiotic medical food that is clinically proven in the dietary management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis (UC), and ileal pouch. Probiotics are a vital part of a healthy digestive system, but they’re not all created equal. VSL#3 is a proprietary formulation of a mix of 8 strains of live lactic acid bacteria, making it one of the few probiotics with this many strains, and it is at least 10 times more potent than the average probiotic. If you suffer from any of the above conditions, it’s definitely worth a try.

VSL#3 is available online at www.vsl3.com, or you can visit the pharmacy locator to find your nearest location. You’ll need to ask your pharmacist for VSL#3, as it is kept behind the pharmacy counter in the refrigerator.

This is a product-provided, sponsored conversation that contains affiliate links. All opinions, text, and experiences are my own. VSL#3 is a medical food and must be used under medical supervision.