Scared of having an IBS attack at work? You're not alone. Working with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can be difficult for many people. Whether it's the fear of an IBS flare-up, embarrassment about sharing a bathroom, or experiencing concentration difficulties—it can feel like there are countless ways IBS can stop you from feeling comfortable and confident at work.

Is IBS affecting your work life?

Have you ever gone to work with diarrhea for fear of losing your job or letting people down? 

Have you ever wanted to talk to your boss or to HR about your condition but felt too embarrassed to bring it up? 

Have you ever spent so much time worrying about IBS that you struggled to concentrate on work tasks?

If you've answered 'yes' to any (or all) of the above questions, then your IBS may be negatively affecting your work life. IBS has been shown to affect people's daily activities, including productivity. When dealing with regular bouts of abdominal pain, diarrhea, and anxiety, it's not uncommon for your professional life to take a hit.

If you feel like IBS is ruining your work life or have found yourself wondering, "how on earth do I tell my boss I have diarrhea?", then read on to discover some tips on how to manage your IBS in the workplace.

How to improve your work life with IBS

Working with IBS can be difficult, but there are several ways you make working with IBS symptoms easier on your and your workplace.

To manage IBS at work, consider the following strategies:

  • Get up early: Allow enough time for breakfast and your toilet routine before leaving for work.
  • Don't keep your IBS a secret: As the saying goes, "if you don't ask, you don't get." Tell the right people at work about your symptoms and explain how you may need specific accommodations (such as extended bathroom breaks). If needed, ask your GP to write you a letter explaining your condition and how it impacts your life. Don't be afraid of over-sharing: IBS is a health condition, you are advocating for yourself!
  • Bring your lunch to work: Avoid eating on the run or consuming shared office meals that might contain your trigger foods.
  • Keep hydrated and limit your caffeine intake: Coffee, as you may know, is a common IBS trigger for many people. 
  • Find an ‘IBS Buddy’: Let a close colleague at work know about your condition so that they can support you if you need to leave early or step out of a meeting. 
  • Reduce stress: Try and implement a few stress-relieving activities into your daily routine, such as meditation, yoga, or tai chi. 

Remember: For some people, their IBS can be so severe it amounts to a disability. If that is the case, it's the employer's legal duty to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace. Make sure you are not being discriminated against. Check your rights, the work legislation, and any benefits you might be entitled to.

Prepare for a possible IBS attack at work

Despite all the precautions you may take, accidents can still happen. It's good to carry an emergency IBS kit with you to work, so if anything does happen, you will be ready for it.

Depending on your predominant IBS subtype (IBS-D, IBS-C, or IBS-M), what you pack will be unique to you, however, some good ideas for an emergency kit include:

  • Spare underwear/clothing
  • Tissues
  • Wipes
  • Perfume or spray
  • Some 'IBS safe' snacks
  • Peppermint tea bags
  • Bottled water
  • IBS medicines 

When to call in sick with IBS

Many people with IBS feel guilty about calling in sick. However, it's important to remember that IBS is real and that it has a significant impact on people's lives. If you're feeling very unwell, then staying home may be the right decision. 

Don’t judge yourself for taking the day, after all, would you judge someone who couldn't come to work due to a migraine? Probably not. Sick days are not just for people with contagious illnesses, they're there so employees can look after their health.

If you're in pain or are experiencing mild symptoms, you can try taking IBS medications or even a hot water bottle with you to work (if you happen to have a desk job) to soothe your symptoms. However, if you've been up all night and still can't pull yourself away from the bathroom, then it might be a good idea to stay put.

Calling in sick to work with diarrhea might sound embarrassing, but if you're experiencing a bad flare-up, then you're within your rights to decide to stay home.

If you're thinking of calling in sick due to fear of a flare-up, then you may want to consider new ways to manage your symptoms, so that they don't interfere with your work schedule.

How to relieve work IBS anxiety

Since anxiety and IBS are closely linked, your work situation can present a vicious circle. For example, when the bathroom is all you can think about, you might feel too anxious to go to work. However, calling in sick can increase your anxiety, making your symptoms worse. 

Research shows that hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, and different relaxation techniques may help you manage anxiety and negative thoughts. Some IBS hypnotherapy apps, like Nerva, are designed to soothe the mind and the gut, so you can learn to manage your IBS anxiety and IBS symptoms at the same time.

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Calm your IBS in 6 weeks

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Take the IBS Quiz
Experiencing bloating? Gut pain? Diarrhea? Constipation? Take the quiz to see if your symptoms are consistent with IBS.
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What if you could calm IBS in just 6 weeks?
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Take the IBS Quiz
Experiencing bloating? Gut pain? Diarrhea? Constipation? Take the quiz to see if your symptoms are consistent with IBS.
Take the quiz
Calm IBS in 6 weeks
Take our free assessment to discover if hypnotherapy can work for you.
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters
Start assessment
Calm IBS in 6 weeks
Take our free assessment to discover if hypnotherapy can work for you.
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters
Start assessment
Calm IBS in 6 weeks
Take our free assessment to discover if hypnotherapy can work for you.
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters
Start assessment
Calm IBS in 6 weeks
Take our free assessment to discover if hypnotherapy can work for you.
Diet and drug free program
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Fix the miscommunication between your gut and brain
Manage IBS with gut-directed hypnotherapy
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If your anxiety about having a flare-up at work is overwhelming you, taking time to address and deconstruct negative thoughts, like "everyone's judging me for leaving early" or "I won't get a promotion because my IBS is holding me back", can help get you and your mindset back on track.

How to manage IBS anxiety at work

What can employers do?

The employer should look for ways to support workers who have IBS. They might find it uncomfortable to talk about the condition; however, a good conversation is often the best start.

The employer can:

  • Offer flexible working hours
  • Discuss work from home options, if possible
  • Provide easy access to toilets
  • Allow regular work and toilet breaks
  • Provide employees with IBS access to a quiet place to relax

The wrap-up

Working with IBS can be difficult, embarrassing, or even guilt-ridden for some people, but it doesn't have to be. With the right treatments, proper planning, and open conversations, you can maintain a positive work-life balance and pursue your career. Often, it's a good idea to speak to your employer first, as this can lessen IBS work anxiety and make space for strategies that support you and your workplace. If your symptoms are regularly getting in the way of your work, then you may want to speak to your doctor about IBS treatment options. 

What if you could calm IBS in just 6 weeks?
Take the quiz and find out if you can manage your flare-ups by fixing the miscommunication between your gut and brain
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters from Monash University
Start quiz now
Quiz: Could hypnosis help you quit smoking?
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Calm cravings
Manage withdrawal symptoms
Science-backed
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Want to calm your IBS in 15 minutes a day?

Take our free quiz to discover if Nerva's gut-directed hypnotherapy program can work for you.

✅ 89% success rate
✅ 80,000+ people helped
✅ Created by gut health experts
❌ No appointments or waitlists
❌ No pills or diet change

Start quiz

Hot Flash Relief

Manage your hot flashes in just 5 weeks.

✅ Science-backed & effective
✅ Natural & safe option
✅ Created by Dr Elkins
❌ No appointments or waitlists
❌ No medications

Learn more

Hypnotherapy

Unlock the power of your mind and embrace better health.

Find out how

Refer, monitor and grow

A free and easy way to refer patients to digital hypnotherapy programs.

Let's Connect
Think it could be IBS?

Take the Quiz.
Experiencing bloating? Gut pain? Diarrhea? Constipation? Take the quiz to see if your symptoms are consistent with IBS.
Take the quiz
Download your free guide to managing IBS with hypnotherapy
Calm IBS related pain
Break the stress-IBS cycle
Manage IBS symptoms without diets or drugs
Download Now
Think it could be IBS?

Take the Quiz.
Experiencing bloating? Gut pain? Diarrhea? Constipation? Take the quiz to see if your symptoms are consistent with IBS.
Take the quiz
Want to manage your IBS in 15 minutes a day?
Take our free quiz to discover if hypnotherapy can work for you.
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters
Start quiz
Want to manage your IBS in 15 minutes a day?
Take our free quiz to discover if hypnotherapy can work for you.
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters
Start quiz
Want to manage your IBS in 15 minutes a day?
Take our free quiz to discover if hypnotherapy can work for you.
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters
Start quiz
Want to manage your IBS in 15 minutes a day?
Take our free quiz to discover if hypnotherapy can work for you.
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters
Start quiz
Fix the miscommunication between your gut and brain
Manage IBS with gut-directed hypnotherapy
50,000+ people helped
A calmer gut and mind
Start 7 day trial
Manage hot flashes in just five weeks
Hormone free
Low risk
Evidence based
Start Now
Manage hot flashes without hormones
App based
Low risk
Evidence based
Start Now
Sleep better, without hormones
App based
Low risk
Evidence based
Start Now
Receive your Clinician Pack
Full access to our apps, white papers, and more
Referral scripts with a 15% discount
Free discovery call with our health specialists
Get your pack now
Interested in hypnotherapy?
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Contents

Calm IBS in 6 weeks

Take our free assessment to discover if Nerva can work for you.

✅ 89% success rate
✅ 50,000+ people helped
✅ Created by Dr Peters

Start

Hot Flash Relief

Manage your hot flashes in just 5 weeks.

✅  Scientifically proven
✅  Natural & safe option
✅  Created by Dr Elkins

Learn more

Hypnotherapy

Unlock the power of your mind and embrace better health.

Find out more

Refer, monitor and grow

A free and easy way to refer patients to digital hypnotherapy programs.

Let's Connect
Could it be IBS?
Take the quiz to find out.
Free guide to managing IBS with hypnotherapy
Calm IBS in 6 weeks
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters
What if you could calm IBS in just 6 weeks?
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters from Monash Univeristy
Could it be IBS?
Take the quiz to find out.
Calm IBS in 6 weeks
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters
Calm IBS in 6 weeks
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters
Calm IBS in 6 weeks
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters
Calm IBS in 6 weeks
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters
Manage IBS with gut-directed hypnotherapy
Start free trial
Sleep better, without hormones
App based
Low risk
Evidence based
Manage hot flashes in just five weeks
Start Now
Manage hot flashes without hormones
App based
Low risk
Evidence based
Refer, monitor and grow
A free and easy way to refer patients to digital hypnotherapy programs.
Get your pack now
Interested in hypnotherapy?
Learn how hypnotherapy works on the brain and how it is changing healthcare.
Find out how