IBS... sigh.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 26, 2011 12:06 PM GMT
    It's such a cliche these days but for two years now (mostly since starting Accutane which I took for several months... no surprise) I've had so many digestive problems it's hard to keep up with it.

    Even when I do the right things, am active, manage my anxiety as best as I can, and form good, regular eating habits, avoiding foods I have intolerances to, etc., I will will find my gut doing EVERYTHING-- acid reflux, intestinal cramps, sometimes bad cramps that make me need to keel over or lay on my stomach, diarrhea (or almost-diarrhea) all the time for a few days in a row... it's brutal. It takes some dignity and happiness from me when every time I do everything right, I still throughout the day am struggling with this. It can really start to limit my productivity, etc., and of course, really frustrate me.

    They've come to the point of saying it's IBS since they say they can't figure it out apart from the acid reflux, though they haven't exactly given me the full spectrum of tests.

    They say that IBS is most likely linked to serotonin, 95% of which is located in the stomach. It also seems like digestive disorders that evade physical tests, especially IBS, are so common in people with anxiety and depression. I can understand this-- I really believe in a mind/body connection. It can just be so frustrating and hard to believe sometimes that your mind/emotions and the chemicals that power it could be enough to give cramps, burning, and indigestion for days on end at a time.

    Does anyone else here have some sort of unlabelled digestive disorder involving spastic movements of your digestive system specifically, like IBS? And do you have a lot of stress, or anxiety/depression?
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    Jan 26, 2011 3:17 PM GMT
    Has the Doc ordered a colonoscopy to find out what it looks like in there?

    IBS and IBD are similar but not the same. There's talk Accutane triggers IBD.

    -Doug
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    Jan 26, 2011 4:29 PM GMT
    I indeed have not had a colonscopy. Should I be requesting one?

    I know it sounds like it could be all in my head or not linked but anyone who knows me knows that the summer I was taking Accutane was the first time I had to get medical attention because I had constant abdominal pain. At work (tourist info. booth) I'd have to lean forward on the countertop all the time.
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    Jan 26, 2011 5:38 PM GMT
    Yes. Ask your Doc about getting one done. It will show if there's inflammation or anything else going on. A friend was diagnosed with IBS and put on SSRI antidepressants. It made her feel better anxiety-wise but did little for the IBS. Finally she requested an appointment w/a specialist who did a colonoscopy and found ulcerative colitis.

    Once on the right drugs (and btw she's no longer on antidepressants) she's roared back into the swing of things.


    -Doug
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    Jan 26, 2011 6:42 PM GMT
    Thanks so much for your suggestion and encouragement. When everyone around you tells you to stop looking for answers and "it's all in your head" you get tired of it.

    I realize my anxiety disorder can really trigger episodes of digestive problems, but I can't imagine it's the ROOT cause of some of the pain and discomfort I've felt recently.
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    Jan 26, 2011 7:50 PM GMT
    No one can say it's all in your head until it's proven it's all in your head.

    Mom was told that same line for many years about her rapidly beating heart and when she sometimes felt her heart was skipping beats. Of course no one was testing her while she was horseback riding or spring cleaning the house. My Dad used to affectionately call her his lil hypochondriac. Well, finally 2 years ago I was shopping with her and she turned white as a sheet and kept having to stop for breath. I'm a whole different kind of guy, so I took her to the nearest walk-in clinic, who referred to outpatient at hospital where they measured her blood oxygenation. It was so low they refused to let her leave, admitted her, tested her and discovered the rheumatic fever she'd had as a child had cooked the bicuspid valve, and damaged the tri-cuspid.

    Happily, she's now post major heart surgery and going to fitness 3 times a week. She's 78. Needless to say a great many relatives and friends had some rather embarrassing personal moments of truth thinking in retrospect of how they'd spoken of her worries. icon_wink.gif

    -Doug
  • neosyllogy

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    Jan 27, 2011 1:59 AM GMT
    Yeah, I'd do some google foot work and look into getting some exams.
    Not necessarily related, but celiac disease, a possibility? (this would essentially require a gluten free diet; I know a couple people who nominally have it)


    Edit: Oh, lactose intolerance? I mention only because I had a bad flu (probably H1N1) and afterwards had constant stomach issues. I drink (drank) so much milk that there was never a period I wasn't drinking for months and therefore didn't realize that was what was causing the problem. Turns out a bad flu can induce lactose intolerance. Who knew?icon_smile.gif (And yeay lactaid brand milk!!!)

    Anyway, the point is, look into what's going on 'down ins'. I would also, if I were you, take everything out of my diet. Then reintroduce items systematically while keeping track of them. (That's how I finally figured out I was lactose intolerant!)
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    Jan 27, 2011 2:02 AM GMT
    Have you seen a Gastroenterologist? At 20, I can't imagine you've built up enough stress and anxiety to wear away your abdominal wall... I would see a specialist.
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    Jan 27, 2011 6:55 AM GMT
    Tested negative for celiac, and lactose supplements only helped a tiny bit. I have had comprehensive (and expensive) food intolerance testing-- numerous results were only minor effects (1 on a 4-pt. scale) but WHEAT (not gluten, but wheat itself) showed up as a higher score (2) as did cow's milk (2) and the highest rating, 4, was YEAST-- bakers AND brewer's. Which is insane because yeast is in everything.

    I have done everything in my power to remove these from my diet. It just seems like there must be something more because when I eat a diet of yeast and wheat et. al, I can feel pretty decent for weeks at a time (apart from small reactions a day or two after eating something heavy in dairy or wheat or yeast) but then if I stop entirely, "cold turkey", (as I should be doing all the time), I suddenly get an onslaught of worse symptoms than while I was eating the things I shouldn't.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm suspicious that although it helps for me to avoid certain foods, I can also eat all the right things and avoid the wrong things (yeast, wheat, dairy), and I'll still get symptoms. Again, maybe that's leftover damage in my digestive tract from when I've been eating the things I'm intolerant of? I imagine there would be inflammation left over from when I ate the things I'm intolerant to.

    As for the person saying I'm too young to have too much stress--- that's a bit ridiculous to state. Age has nothing to do with stress. Especially when you've got severe anxiety problems, and trust me, I've had my episodes in life, on top of a pretty steady level of anxiety and obsessive thinking (which I am in counseling for and work every day at managing and living a happy life with it).

    I plan to keep strictly avoiding the foods I'm intolerant of... more strictly than ever before. After a few weeks I will see how I am doing. Then depending on that, I will decide if I want to get a colonoscopy or not.
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    Jan 27, 2011 7:21 AM GMT
    you will thank me for this later.

    first off, IBS is a bogus, blanket-statement diagnosis by doctors when people have stomach issues, but can't figure out the cause. i was diagnosed with that for years and come to find out i had/have a gluten intolerance. i stopped eating gluten and voila. it was insane to me how many doctors i saw, and nobody suggested this to me except for an acupuncturist i finally saw.

    anyways, the dead give-away with you is that you are taking accutane. this is a drug for acne, right? it is an anti-biotic? antibiotics wipes all bacteria from your body.. did you know your body needs certain bacteria? yes.. there are good kinds too. your intestines are one thing that need bacteria in it to help digest food and keep itself healthy.

    you should get yourself on a highly concentrated probiotic to start replenishing your belly with the bacteria it needs. you should find a health food store, or even if there is a Whole Foods market near you, you can find good probiotics there. you should find a pill or powder form. here is a good one: http://www.theralac.com/
    you keep it in the refrigerator and it keeps the cultures alive. you cant taste this stuff.. it's not gross or anything. and your digestive tract will start to feel better.

    seen commercials for that stuff called Activia? well, most yogurt has these cultures and bacteria in it naturally (Activia finally just decided to market it for what it's had all along).. but not in high enough dosage for someone like yourself. but this will at least give you a small frame of reference for now.

    the other thing, that would be more severe, yet manageable in a similar way is candida overgrowth. this is when your digestive tract becomes overgrown with yeast from too much bad bacteria, and no good bacteria. the probiotic/acidophilus will replenish the bacteria still and be something you'd take, but you would probably also need to do either a candida cleanse, cranberry supplement, garlic supplement, or myriad of other things. even a high-fiber sort of thing for a week or 2. i would worry about this secondary though. i know you will get relief from your symptoms once you get yourself on probiotics. but it needs to be something in high enough dosage to matter, like the one i pointed out above. it will probably cost you 30-40 bucks, but should last you a month or so, and relief would be felt within that period for you.

    good luck.
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    Jan 27, 2011 7:31 AM GMT
    Didn't say you were too young for stress dude. I said you were too young to have years and years of corrosive abdominal wall stress... But I'm not a doctor. Neither are you. Go to a specialist for this shit.
  • xKorix

    Posts: 607

    Jan 27, 2011 7:44 AM GMT
    I actually had this problem like you, for about two years. I was under a lot of stress and anxiety and I was carrying around a lot of repressed emotions. Also I have a gluten intolerance(most people do and for most people it won't show up on celiac or gluten tests, mine didn't). It was pretty bad at times, my stomach would have these crazy movements and cramps, as well, lots of pain and discomfort, my stool was rarely ever solid. The two biggest things that helped me were cutting gluten and allowing myself to feel fully as well as let go control over all my feelings. It's simple but not easy, I had some intense/dark emotions I buried and lots of fear, but the more I let out, the lighter and clearer I felt.
    I don't really have digestive issues anymore, even if I eat something processed and not so good, my stomach still handles it okay, whereas before a slice of pizza would be murder o_O
  • Anto

    Posts: 2035

    Jan 27, 2011 8:00 AM GMT
    Have you been tested for intestinal parasites? Gay men are at a higher risk for certain kinds like entamoeba histolytica which amongst other things can damage the lining of the intestine.
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    Jan 27, 2011 8:51 AM GMT
    I'm confused. You say that you've been tested and you had bad reactions to wheat, cow's milk, and yeast. And then that there's yeast in everything. But there's wheat and cow's milk in pretty much all processed foods too.
    So my confusion is concerning why you want to eat processed foods. Why not cook and eat whole foods? Replace soy with coconut aminos etc.

    Try having a look at http://www.amazon.com/Paleo-Solution-Original-Human-Diet/dp/0982565844/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1292193309&sr=1-1

    But yeah, sometimes it seems like doctors don't want to believe that young people can become sick. One of my friends had undiagnosed Crohn's for 1½ years before his mother finally drove him to the hospital and insisted that they keep him until they had found out what was wrong with him.
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    Jan 27, 2011 3:11 PM GMT
    pre_mortem saidI'm confused. You say that you've been tested and you had bad reactions to wheat, cow's milk, and yeast. And then that there's yeast in everything. But there's wheat and cow's milk in pretty much all processed foods too.
    So my confusion is concerning why you want to eat processed foods. Why not cook and eat whole foods?


    I never said that I insist on eating processed foods. I am eating the basics. It's just a massive shift in habits that's taking some time for me. I pretty much have to make everything in my own kitchen, and finding seasonings and flavours I can use is even harder. It's hard... life is busy. But I'm learning and I guess it really is worth it!

    _________________________________________________________________

    There's been so many great suggestions in this thread. The thing is, I'm already doing most of it which is why I feel at the end of my rope with this stuff. I'm taking Bio-K every day (a strong probiotic yogurt/fermented milk), I avoid wheat (as I said earlier gluten is not the problem for me; wheat itself is) and dairy and yeast, etc. Also I'm not on Accutane anymore, and it's not an antibiotic as someone mentioned. But it is REALLY hard on your body, let me tell you.

    I guess what I really need to do is just smarten up and eat more strictly. No more grabbing food on the run while I'm out and making an excuse and saying "just this time". I need to avoid processed foods entirely, because they always contain cow's milk, wheat, or yeast, among other things that I've been shown to have reactions to.
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    Jan 27, 2011 3:46 PM GMT
    hm, ok.

    you know, it took me some time before i realized i had a gluten intolerance. the way you know that your body can't handle something is this. go 2 weeks without eating or drinking it, then re-introduce it to your body. if you get a reaction you know that's it.
    - wheat/gluten: no breads, flours, beers, certain alcohols, a lot of sauces have wheat or gluten in there - soy, BBQ, gravy
    - dairy: no milk, cheese, etc
    - corn
    - meat

    all of those things there are the hardest for your body to digest. i would have 2-week segments of not eating each one, in the order mentioned (unless it's easier to eliminate dairy first or you think that is the culprit more), then try it again. if you get the symptoms or reaction, then you know your body doesn't like it. same as someone else mentioned - i don't have celiac, so it didn't show up in a test, but i definitely had a reaction when i tried eating it after the 2 weeks.

    and you're right.. i thought accutane was an anti-biotic... sorry about that. it could still be the candida thing.
    if you have a holistic practitioner near you, they can look at this situation from a totally different angle than the medical doctors. clearly the medical doctors dont know what it is, or they wouldn't just label you as having "IBS". a good acupuncturist could help as well, because if it IS anxiety, they can help relieve that, and they should understand the body enough to figure out what the problem could be. they are usually able to help with chinese herbs as well.

    and before you, or anyone else, thinks not using an actual medical doctor is a waste of time - know that acupuncturist have to get an actual medical degree before they can practice and it takes about 5 years or more. it's not this random, fly-by-night career path people just decide to do. they should know what they are talking about when you go see them.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 27, 2011 3:54 PM GMT
    MarsInAries saidyou will thank me for this later.

    first off, IBS is a bogus, blanket-statement diagnosis by doctors when people have stomach issues, but can't figure out the cause. i was diagnosed with that for years and come to find out i had/have a gluten intolerance. i stopped eating gluten and voila. it was insane to me how many doctors i saw, and nobody suggested this to me except for an acupuncturist i finally saw.

    anyways, the dead give-away with you is that you are taking accutane. this is a drug for acne, right? it is an anti-biotic? antibiotics wipes all bacteria from your body.. did you know your body needs certain bacteria? yes.. there are good kinds too. your intestines are one thing that need bacteria in it to help digest food and keep itself healthy.

    you should get yourself on a highly concentrated probiotic to start replenishing your belly with the bacteria it needs. you should find a health food store, or even if there is a Whole Foods market near you, you can find good probiotics there. you should find a pill or powder form. here is a good one: http://www.theralac.com/
    you keep it in the refrigerator and it keeps the cultures alive. you cant taste this stuff.. it's not gross or anything. and your digestive tract will start to feel better.

    seen commercials for that stuff called Activia? well, most yogurt has these cultures and bacteria in it naturally (Activia finally just decided to market it for what it's had all along).. but not in high enough dosage for someone like yourself. but this will at least give you a small frame of reference for now.

    the other thing, that would be more severe, yet manageable in a similar way is candida overgrowth. this is when your digestive tract becomes overgrown with yeast from too much bad bacteria, and no good bacteria. the probiotic/acidophilus will replenish the bacteria still and be something you'd take, but you would probably also need to do either a candida cleanse, cranberry supplement, garlic supplement, or myriad of other things. even a high-fiber sort of thing for a week or 2. i would worry about this secondary though. i know you will get relief from your symptoms once you get yourself on probiotics. but it needs to be something in high enough dosage to matter, like the one i pointed out above. it will probably cost you 30-40 bucks, but should last you a month or so, and relief would be felt within that period for you.

    good luck.


    Just FYI. Accutane is not an antibiotic. It is a Vitamin A derivative.
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    Jan 27, 2011 4:12 PM GMT
    yes, i do know that now. i mentioned that in my prior post that i was mistaken.
    i was thinking acne med = antibiotic, but that's what i get for assuming.
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    Jan 27, 2011 4:21 PM GMT
    There is a website and a relatively cheap book called Great Taste No Pain.
    I bought the book and followed the diet for 24 hrs and found relief immediately. I was diagnosed with IBS and given steroids ...refused them.

    http://www.greattastenopain.com/

    It is based on a century old diet of not mixing acids and bases...and minimizing certain acidic foods altogether (most animal products have more acidity than we can handle)

    The basis of the book is to not combine certain foods within a 2-3 hr period. It's not really complicated but too detailed for this post. You just follow the first 4 days step by step and then modify it to your taste. I swear by it as do hundreds of others that were diagnosed with Crones, IBS and acid reflux.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 27, 2011 4:32 PM GMT
    http://accutane.gregmonforton.com/
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    Jan 27, 2011 4:50 PM GMT
    To the OP:

    You and I sound like we could have twin intestines. For YEARS I suffered a whole spectrum of intestinal pain, discomfort, etc - it was insane. I was tested for food allergies, gluten, etc etc. I've had several colonoscopies. I've "had" IBS, rapid transit syndrome, colitis, etc all floated my way.

    Many years ago I had intestinal parasites from drinking ditch water. (Dumb I know but I was WAY out in the woods and thought I'd be ok.) But I had issues even before that, as a teen, and after the parasites it became worse for about a year until it went back to "normal" - as normal as it was before.

    I've had several gastroenterologists...been to infectious disease specialists, allergists, etc. Never a solid diagnosis, (other than being allergic to peppers and a slight intolerance for garlic,) never consistent symptoms, issues during periods of high stress and no stress!

    Until I started doing 2 things:

    Per my gastro dr, I started taking natural psyllium husk fiber powder daily. It helped tremendously with the ...output issues.

    However, I still suffered serious pain/cramps/gas no matter what I ate.

    So I finally had to get serious about the bacteria levels in my guts. Yogurt wasn't enough....probiotics always gave me diarrhea...so I discovered kefir and it's changed my life!!!
    http://www.lifeway.net/Products/Kefir.aspx

    Seriously, since starting kefir in late 2009 my life has become so much less worrisome, because I no longer need to consider where is the nearest restroom when I travel, etc. I can workout with less discomfort. I don't suffer dehydration as badly. My skin looks better and my guts are happier.

    When I discovered kefir, I was at wit's end. I could barely maintain a weight above 175. Now I hover healthily in the mid180s to 190 and have more energy than I did in the past.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 27, 2011 4:51 PM GMT
    Welcome to the club.

    As has been noted, IBS is a diagnosis given by process of, um, elimination. It, um, runs in my family, completely disabling one of my aunts.

    While celiac disease and gluten intolerance are certainly real, they are a popular diagnosis these days. The actual occurrence is pretty rare. But I do know someone myself who had an IBS diagnosis. He quit eating gluten and his problems really did resolve themselves.

    Sometimes SSRIs are prescribed with moderate success. Much more effective in my own case was taking a tricyclic antidepressant. For the years I was on one (long ago), my IBS all but disappeared. I actually told this repeatedly to my doctors and they dismissed it. Now, it turns out that the drugs are prescribed routinely for IBS.

    There are a few effective drugs. I assume you have been prescribed dicyclomine, which helps control spasms. Some doctors are experimenting with the use of Pancrease taken with meals.

    The connection between IBS and mental/emotional state is real, but not in a literally causative way. Nonetheless, anxiety can definitely trigger an episode in my experience. So do some foods. Eventually, you get to the point where just smelling certain foods will warn you away.

    Lactose intolerance is part of the condition (if not the entire condtion) for lots of people. When I took probiotics, they just aggravated the IBS.

    Try the gluten-free diet, try probiotics, but I would definitely talk to my doctor about a mild dose of tricyclics.

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    Jan 27, 2011 4:54 PM GMT
    I already do counseling and take SSRI's for an anxiety disorder. And I take a high-grade probiotic. And I know which foods I'm intolerant of. Etc. etc. etc.

    For me, this case is closed until I've been super strict for a few weeks with regards to what I eat. Then I'll get back to you guys.

    If that doesn't resolve it, colonscopy here we come! But to be honest, I imagine if I'm super strict with my eating and avoiding trigger foods the next few weeks, I'll be fine.

    This all definitely started when I took Accutane though.
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    Jan 27, 2011 5:00 PM GMT
    t_h_r_i_v_e saidI already do counseling and take SSRI's for an anxiety disorder. And I take a high-grade probiotic. And I know which foods I'm intolerant of. Etc. etc. etc..


    The SSRI won't help much, but a tricyclic antidepressant is very effective for many people.

    Actually, it looks like Accutane may well have caused your symptoms:

    http://www.motleyrice.com/accutane-lawsuit?gclid=CI61tfLt2qYCFYnt7QodHHKI0w
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    Apr 13, 2011 5:03 PM GMT
    Interesting Obscene Wish
    Wondering if you are refering to amitriptilene... how long did it take for it to have an effect.
    My doc recently prescribed it to me for IBS, and after 2 weeks no benefit. He did say it was slow acting. What was your experience like?
    IBS is the pitts!