Nicola, 33


First diagnosed: “I was first diagnosed when I was 16 after I had an attack at work and was rushed to the doctors. It was the first time it had happened to me so it was quite a shock when they told me it was IBS.”

Emotional impact: “It does have quite a big impact on my life and can cause me quite a bit of stress - I have to watch what I eat closely (before I learnt how to control it I would sometimes avoid eating all day if I have an important meeting which didn’t do me any good), I have to plan trips around it and I always have to scope out the toilet situation if I’m going somewhere new.”

Triggers: “Eating and stress are the main two – so basically just modern life! But not going to the loo when I need to also makes the symptoms worse.”

Impact on your life: “I’ve had to have about 10 medical procedures and investigations over the years and it always makes me emotional afterwards because it is so invasive. It also means that I often have to take time off work, which can make life really difficult. Due to the extreme bloating that comes with the condition, I’ve often found that I’ll plan outfits for big events, but have to change them at the last minute because I’m just too bloated to wear them. It can really take the excitement out of social occasions.”

Advice for fellow sufferers: “Keep a regular journal of your triggers – whether it’s certain foods, a particular time of the month or nerve-wracking situations, it will all be useful in helping you manage the condition on an ongoing basis. Because no one knows what causes it or how to treat it, it can be really demoralising, but keeping a diary will make it really clear when and why IBS affects you personally.”

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