Whether you’ve always had IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) or it’s something new to you, living with it at university can be a challenging time for anyone, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.
I, for example, got diagnosed during my second year of university and found myself lost and not knowing what to do. I would end up missing lectures due to fear of my bowels making noises and causing embarrassment, I would end up lying in bed in pain and discomfort and I didn’t know what I could do, eventually I found ways around it which I shall outline.
I would say one of the first major things you should do is talk about it with the people around you, whether that’s friends, family or your teachers. The more you talk about it the more you’ll see that it’s nothing to be worried about, it shouldn’t take control of your life, you’ll also see just how understanding people are when it comes to IBS, there is nothing to feel bad about.
Secondly, and this may be something you’re already aware of but it’s worth mentioning, change your diet! The sad truth about IBS is that you may have to exclude or at least cut down on certain foods going forward, for me it meant cutting all meats and dairy foods but you’ll know better than anyone what it is that’ll set you off. I would say once you have identified what it is that upsets you then it becomes easier to help yourself.
It’s also worth mentioning that teachers and lecturers are incredibly understanding too, much more than you’d perhaps ever thought. It’s certainly worth meeting with your personal tutor, the teacher who teaches your class or even anyone connected to your classes! They can help and advise you and more importantly be a human being to you.
There are also medicines that you could be prescribed by visiting your GP. I went into De Montfort Surgery and got a prescription from there and that’s the easiest place for students to go about anything like this or likewise. Shops such as Boots also sell a range of different IBS medicines and tablets, they can also be helpful but it’s important to remember these are often short term solutions and determents, it won’t help for that long!
My experience with IBS has improved vastly from a changed diet, now I never miss anything at university and I have no problem talking about IBS with anyone, or even writing about it! I’d say the only issues I have with it now are from after a night out, as I’m trying to work out which alcohol that would cause issues but it’s an ongoing investigation. In terms of medicines I actually haven’t taken any for months after cutting out meat and dairy in my diet, but they can help some people.
It’s important to remember that what might cause me issues wouldn’t cause you any, and vice versa. I know a few people with IBS like me that have foods that will set them off such as white bread whereas I seem to be fine with it. It’s all about testing and trying foods and finding out for yourself. This is why a food diary can be useful in the earlier stages to assist you.
Essentially you’ll find it a time of investigating for yourself with as much help as you want, as there will always be those at university to help. Like Albus Dumbledore once said “Help will always be given to those at DMU who ask for it.” Or something like that!