Fibromyalgia may be known to cause widespread pain and fatigue, but there are a number of other symptoms and side effects we don’t talk about as often. For many with fibro, gastrointestinal symptoms are unfortunately a common occurrence. Although researchers are not yet clear on whether the fibromyalgia itself causes these digestive issues to occur, studies have shown that irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other GI issues frequently coexist with fibromyalgia. While this may be the case for some, others might have gastrointestinal symptoms as a side effect of medication, or even as a result of a different illness. Even though GI issues are common among those with fibro, it’s important to talk to your doctor about any symptoms you’re experiencing to determine the source of the issue and receive proper treatment.
Still, regardless of the cause, digestive issues can be frustrating and, at times, perhaps a bit embarrassing to deal with. It can be especially difficult if it feels like no one else really “gets it” – so, to better understand the reality of fibromyalgia and its coexisting issues, we asked our Mighty community to share the gastrointestinal symptoms they’ve experienced. If you have fibro and struggle with any of the following, know you’re not alone.
Here’s what the community shared with us:
1. “Any stress I have normally shows as violent stomach cramps and diarrhea, especially when I have a high pain day.” – Elyse B.
2. “Getting stuck in the bathroom for an embarrassing amount of time.” – Lauren H.
3. “My stomach produces too much acid. The pain is horrible. I am getting my gall bladder checked. This has been going on since last summer.” – Crystal R.
4. “My doctor said that fibromyalgia and IBS-D [irritable bowel syndrome with diarrhea] tend to go hand in hand. It can be quite debilitating, especially when I’m on the downswing of my fibromyalgia because it makes the IBS-D so much worse.” – Taisha A.
5. “IBS, food intolerances, I’m uh… more pooy and gassy. Oh, bloated stomach always!” – Kirst F.
6. “I get stabbing pains in my abdominal area for no apparent reason. It’s random and severe and never in the same place so I can only imagine it’s something upsetting my gastrointestinal tract.” – Kelly W.
7. “I never know if eating will set off the IBS or not. It’s a guessing game I wish I didn’t have to play!” – Lori A.
8. “IBS with both constipation and the other end of the spectrum. I also get so bloated that I can’t wear pants sometimes. When I tell people they try to fix it with ‘Well what have you changed lately?’ or ‘Have you tried _____?’ But I know it is a matter of just waiting out the flare-up.” – Jaimie R.
9. “I have IBS ulcers, Barrett’s esophagus, bloating, trapped gas.” – Amethyst R.
10. “Almost constant nausea. And suddenly I have severe diarrhea and vomiting around my menstrual cycle.” – Christi S. F.
11. “For a few months, close to six months, I didn’t eat almost at all. I drank a lot of stuff. The thought of chewing made me nauseous and my stomach could only handle drinks basically. I can feel it trying to start again. It is the worst.” – Eloise T.
12. “Food sensitivities and intolerances.” – Laura Ann M.
13. “Bloating which looks and feels more like ‘ballooning.’ I keep two sizes of clothes. My stomach dictates my fashion for the day. And add the gas… lots of it. I do mindful eating for my health and comfort.” – Vee Vee Y.
14. “GERD [gastroesophageal reflux disorder], IBS, and extremely intense stomach cramping.” – Jen B.
15. “IBS has to be one of the worst symptoms of fibromyalgia. I went for months on end with constant stomach upsets. It settled down but somehow the waiting and wondering when it’s coming back is almost as bad as a flare. It’s painful, it’s embarrassing and not being able to stray far from a toilet during a flare makes an already isolating illness that much lonelier.” – Sophie R.
16. “IBS. One day I can’t go and the next day I can’t stop going.” – Ashley W.
17. “Nausea and chronic cyclical vomiting.” – Chelsea N.
18. “There’s no way to prove it, unfortunately. But my GI issues damaged my pancreas so much that it doesn’t digest food properly. Took me five years to figure out I had exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. Excruciating pain that would land me in the hospital. My weight would fluctuate like crazy! (Still does.)” – Sydney L. V.
19. “Wicked acid reflux.” – Terri D.
20. “Bouts of chronic diarrhea, especially in this heat. Which then leads to increased pain that wraps itself around my middle.” – Hayley C.
21. “What don’t I have? I feel like the Pepto-Bismol jingle. Heartburn, nausea, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea – yay Pepto-Bismol! Uggh.” – Brittany H.