General Information It can be sometimes difficult for relatives and friends to understand what an IBS sufferer goes through and just what an impact it can have on your life. The key element is knowledge and education. If your family and friends don’t understand your condition, or how miserable it can make you, they may have a hard time sympathising when it disrupts their plans. Without knowledge of your condition, what should be a vital support network of family and friends can lack empathy with your situation. So be as open with those around you as you feel comfortable. For example ask that your family and friends consider any dietary restrictions you might have when sharing a meal. Most friends and family members will be more than happy to accommodate your needs if you are open and honest with them about how difficult IBS makes your life. At the same time, it is important not to let IBS define your relationship with your friends and family. There is a balance to be struck. Understanding is a two-way street; living with an IBS sufferer who often cancels at the last minute can be very frustrating, so don’t expect infinite patience at all times, and don’t take it personally when the sympathy runs low.