Being an Advocate for Your Own Health — My Gut Health Journey
I sat in my third doctor’s office in three months — this time it was a doctor specializing in gastrointestinal health, so I held onto hope that I would finally have answers for the extreme bloating, pain, and digestive issues that I had been experiencing over the last few years. After a long conversation, the doctor came up with the diagnosis that I had heard multiple before — IBS [Irritable Bowel Syndrome].
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WHAT IS IBS?
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a chronic disorder of the large intestine that causes bloating, cramping, pain, + constipation//diarrhea. The disorder is commonly found in younger women due to high levels of stress, hormone imbalances, changes in the microflora of the intestines, or nervous system issues. The exact cause is unknown + management is typically tied to lifestyle factors, such as exercise, water intake, + diet.
Before this particular diagnosis, I had tried countless remedies, from dietary changes to medication. Needless to say, I had been through a lot and the doctor telling me that there was nothing he could do for me did NOT go over well.
I was living in pain + constant fluctuation with my body — some days I would be completely fine and other days I couldn’t leave my bed because of the cramps + bloat. It wrecked my body confidence. I was frustrated + struggled to love a body that didn’t function correctly, but I continued to be an advocate for my quality of life + for my health.
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WAYS TO BE AN ADVOCATE FOR YOUR OWN HEALTH
1] Don’t take no for an answer
Even after visiting countless doctors + reaching several dead ends, I knew that I couldn’t stop searching for a solution. While IBS is a chronic condition, there are ways to manage the extreme pain that I was feeling every day + I knew that my quality of life could be improved. After a lot of trial + error, I’ve found what works for me now!
2] Manage your mental health
As someone who also struggles with anxiety, my body is almost constantly in a state of stress, which affects digestion and worsens IBS. IBS is becoming increasingly more common due to the constant hustle of our modern world + the stress put on the gut. Frequent meditation, journaling, self-care, + talking with a professional are great ways to take care of your mind + in turn, your body.
3] Ask questions — lots of them!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Health professionals are experts + their entire position exists to help you — take advantage of this! If you don’t understand something, make sure that you gain clarity. Some professionals will attempt to rush you — don’t let them!
4] Do your research.
Obviously take everything you read on the Internet with a grain of salt, but it’s important to do your research to fully understand the condition of your body + what you might be putting into it. When I received my final diagnosis of IBS, the doc tried to prescribe me an off-label use for a medication. When I later researched the medication he prescribed, I found out that it had been tested in a clinical trial ONCE with ten people + only one of those ten people struggled with my specific condition. Trust your healthcare providers, but also trust yourself enough to make your own, informed decisions!
Gut health affects almost everything in the body — your brain, your energy, + obviously, your digestive health. If you struggle with gut health, reach out to your healthcare provider, begin the journey to a healthier gut, + be an advocate for your health! Take care of your body because it does so many wonderful things for you on a daily basis + it’s the only one you’ve got!