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Readers Respond: What Does Your IBS Pain Feel Like?

Responses: 137


Updated October 11, 2012

A spiked balloon in my stomach

I've had IBS symptoms since I was 14. I started getting very bad gas pain and abdominal bloating when I started wearing tight jeans that went up to a little below my waist. Sitting in class wearing jeans that were tight around my stomach always resulted in extreme pain most days. If I wake up early I usually have gas pains, I think it's because I can't defecate so early in the morning. I also get gas pains if I'm awake late past 4am. Since I finished school a while ago I don't get gas pains as often. But when I do it's miserable and Gas-X does not even help. The pain mostly in the middle of my abdomen but I feel it all throughout my torso. Even if I'm hungry, the bloating in my stomach feels like a balloon. I lose my appetite and feel nauseous, and sometimes when I have gas I try to burp and it feels like acid reflux. Lying down and pushing my stomach downwards helps some. But the only thing that usually cures it is to get a full night's sleep. Stress definitely makes it worse too.
—Guest Isis

Some helpful tips

The pain I've had with my IBS (which was officially diagnosed) is like a tight pressure from gas, and at times a shooting rectal pain, which is relieved by having a bowel movement. Things get bad for me around my period, causing nausea and crampiness and diarrhea. And I switch between diarrhea and constipation- fun. So here's what helps me, and what I imagine will help lots of you. Elimination Diet. Stop eating/ drinking these things and see if you have improvement: Alcohol, Caffeine, Processed foods, specifically those containing MSG in its various forms, Cabbage, Broccoli, Onions. I imagine many of you will see a great instant improvement in your symptoms by ridding your body of foods like these, which really aren't good for anyone. Next, try reducing anxiety. Distract yourself, put on a movie, call a friend, read a book. Pray. Stress is a serious problem for IBS sufferers. Also, take some books out from the library on IBS, and figure out what's normal. God bless!
—Guest Clara

Agree with 'Ugly Truth'

This is exactly what happens to me! My triggers are dairy, preservatives, and corn syrup. I also have gotten a rash on my stomach. I've only found 1 doctor who understands/believes that preservatives are a problem. What's with that? Recently, I've had symptoms after eating Perdue chicken. It has happened a few times, so that's off my list of what I can eat.
—Guest Carol


I've had IBS since I was a tiny child. I am 19 now and I still have the same symptoms. The pain is in the middle of my ribs and I can't sleep for hours because of the pain and how uncomfortable I am. When I finally give a BM it is very watery and gassy. It takes almost two hours of sitting on the toilet in pain. The pain even spreads to my lower back and that makes it hard to sit right to pass a BM properly. I have been to so many doctors and they all just give me something to loosen my stool. But it still hurts so much and it affects my job and college. I am a vegetarian so eating healthy is what I aim to do. But still if I have a black bean burger my IBS flares up, which sucks because I love black bean burgers! I hate this. Someone trade stomachs and intestines with me?!
—Guest catastrophe

There is relief!

I want to share my experience with you. I had wicked cramps and my belly would swell so bad that I could not even walk! It was horrible! I finally went to a nutritionist. With her help, we were able to determine what set off the flares. Cutting out the foods that bring on the cramps and irregular BM, or even minimizing how much of it I eat, has helped a ton! Some of the items we removed were onions, caffeine, sugar (use honey or if you don't mind it use stevia instead), pop, dairy (use almond milk instead), MSG was a huge one!, soy and wheat/gluten. I still have some of these items but in moderation, and try to completely avoid if I'm going out with friends. There is a way to control it. Every Body is different, so if you can contact a nutritionist or even ask your Dr. If there is a natural way to deal with it. Another thing I'm taking and find it helps me stay regular is flax seeds or psyllium or any kind of fibre.
—Guest Sue

Ugly truth

Starts off with a dull backache and after 5 years I recognize this sign and know what's about to happen. Mine usually takes place early morning. I have found taking very deep breaths (and I do mean deep) this helps it pass faster. Yes it hurts more to do this but I would rather 20 mins of the pain vs 5 hours. During the most intense pain I usually have to mentally block out everything and focus on my breathing. Start sweating from every pore in my body then end up with diarrhea (several rounds). The pain finally starts to fade and it's this moment where you realize how much you take being "normal" for granted. I have passed out once from the pain. Mine usually is a burning sensation under my ribs almost center like near diaphragm. I lose all color in my face, get pale white. Afterwards I'm exhausted and start having severe chills but fall asleep easily. I usually am sore just a little the next day. I feel for all of you experiencing this.

32 years of this...

I first remember shaking on the toilet in the middle of the night in intense pain at the age of 8. i am 40 now and have had four kids. IBS for me, is worse than labor. It is not a controlled situation that lasts for less than a day where you have a baby to love afterwards. It is a constant nagging, bloating in my upper right side where my extreme constipation and obstructions start. If I don't pay attention, I will go over a week without a BM and actually go up two pants sizes. I will be irritable, weak, have body and joint pains and extreme fatigue. I take massive stool softeners and laxatives to get the ball rolling, knowing the distress it will put me in. Every bm going down my bowels is excruciatingly painful. I get cold sweats, exhaustion, fever, shakes, chest pain, and if the contraction takes too long-panic. There is no getting away from it. When it is all over, it leaves a raw, feeling like there was crushed glass inside me. It takes a day or two to recover.
—Guest Sara


I hate my IBS. It brings nothing but misery. Cramps, pains, sweats, constipation and diarrhea. When I wake I usually manage to go to toilet but sorry folks I can't remember a solid stool. Sometimes there's a bit of blood and it worries me so much and i fear the worst. I have 2 young boys and I'm often wiped out and can't enjoy sports with them. If I eat anything more than an average size meal I soon need the toilet. It's also embarrassing as I usually have to find a toilet when we're out and about. I have seen the doc a few times but it's just IBS. Oh and did I mention my piles and I link them all together. IBS is a life of misery, thank god I have a loving family to keep a smile on my face. IBS sufferers I literally feel your pain.
—Guest Welsh Boy

i feel crazy

My IBS hits me on a daily basis. I have been in and out of the er several times a month because when ibs flares it feels literally like I am dying the symptoms I have are a cross of a heart attack and food poisoning I try to ignore the pain by watching t.v. or rocking. The doctors tell me every time that all my tests and CT scans are normal. I think I would be better off dead then living in pain like this every day. Thanks for hearing me out.
—Guest tawnya

IBS Pain

I've been dealing with IBS symptoms for over a year and a half, diarrhea every time I eat, horrible pain, not sleeping from the pain, and I had to give up my job because IBS was effecting my work performance. The dr. I saw who finally diagnosed me with IBS gave me adavant and told me that the pain and symptoms I've been experiencing are not real and are just in my head. But they are very real. The pain I experience is so bad that I am usually doubled over in pain and crying. The pain always comes out of nowhere and goes back and forth from being a strong, sharp pain to a throbbing pain to feeling like I have been punched in the stomach and am bruised. I have tried over the counter meds for the pain and diarrhea but nothing seems to help. Most weeks I go without sleep for 3-4 days because I get woken up with excruciating pain and can't get comfortable from it. I have had to stop living a "normal" life and it and it's been frustrating.
—Guest Kwest

Ibs w/constipation, gerd and anxiety

I've have ibs since I was 7 and now I'm 22 . I never ate much as a child and I still don't. Citrucel works best for me along with papaya enzymes and Ginger. I have acid reflux as well so my whole digestive system is screwed. I wish this on NO ONE! I also have anxiety that triggers my stomach problems so the time I feel the most comfortable is when I'm asleep.
—Guest April


Mine starts off with a bubbling in the stomach, progressive cramps, nausea, sweating and occasionally fainting due to the pain. After diarrhea, the pain eases. I always have to rush to the toilet in the morning too (even if it isn't playing up). Stimulants for me - dairy products (which I try to avoid completely), coffee, fizzy drinks and greasy food and of course stress.
—Guest Lou

Bad bloatings

I started having ibs 3 years ago when I had a c-section. It's not as bad as it was before, but it gets really bad when I get oily foods. I also get these horrible bloatings. It feels like contractions ! It really helped ease the pain when I breathe. I inhale from my nose, and exhale from my mouth. It really helps the bloating to stop. I get bloatings almost every morning. Also, when Im hungry, and then I get something to eat, I can feel the food drop down to my stomach but I'm still hungry, then I start having these contraction like pain.
—Guest AM

Ibs sufferer

Michelle, I also have ibs I also get it with foods that don't agree or even extreme distress. I get very intense cramps in lower abdomen which lasts until I have my stool. I get constipation and other times diarrhea, it's horrible.
—Guest Michelle

When I get IBS

I started getting it in about 6 th grade and wasn't diagnosed til 8th. I get diarrhea and constipation along with severe pain in my abdomen to the point where I'm doubled over. The pain subsides when I'm done with a BM but it's always hard to complete.
—Guest Kaitlyn

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