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My IBS Success Story & Food Intolerances

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Posted 21 July 2001 - 02:19 PM

My IBS-C/D symptoms started in grade school. I was dianosed at a youngage with allergies as a cause of skin rashes, and standard tests wereconducted to come up with a list of allergens. I then underwent a longseries of allergy shots around age 10.The allergy shots were successful in the sense that there was noimmediate allergic reaction to many of the food items on the list.However, all during my grade school and high school years I experiencedIBS-C/D symptoms with lower left abdominal pain, from mild to moderate.Finally, around the age of 30 the IBS symptoms became progressively muchworse. As is typical, my doctor recommended metamucil fibersupplement. Over the course of one month I took metamucil, and myhealth spiraled downhill rapidly, culminating in severe constipation,and a trip to the hospital with horrible abdominal pain and chills.Once flushed out, I was OK, but why did the symptoms keep happening?The reason this crisis occurred is that I was mixing metamucil withorange juice, one of the food allergens (which I assumed I had not beenhaving much problem with for years). The fiber supplement absorbed theorange juice and transported it farther along the GI tract in anundigested state, producing much worse IBS symptoms.Over the course of several years, it appears that the allergy shots have"worn off", one food item at a time. Each offending food producesabdominal pain in a different location in the GI tract.The worst item turned out to be caffeine, which began to produce severeabdominal pain in the upper right abdominal area. (The perplexing anddifficult to diagnose aspect of this is that the symptoms occurred 12-18hours after ingestion of the food, so it was very difficult to pick outwhich particular items were causing the problem.)Because of the upper-right location, the pain was misdiagnosed at firstas a duodenal ulcer, then as gallbladder disease, and finally as IBS.I experienced tremendous relief with amitriptyline 10 mg [Elavil]anti-depressant, as has been reported by many other folks on thebulletin board. This drug appears to work on the autonomic nervoussystem controlling the GI tract in a way that reduces the occurance ofspasms. In this sense, it is somewhat the opposite of caffeine.I am happy to report a complete cessation of IBS symptoms afterelimination of all offending foods from the diet.My recommendations are as follows, for people with IBS-C or IBS-C/D:1. Keep a detailed food journal. Examine the journal, keeping in mindthe possibility of a 12+ hour time lag from ingestion to symptoms, toidentify foods that aggravate your condition. If you can do so, thisself-help may be more valuable than repeated trips to the doctor. (Somepeople may not have any food intolerances, and will not get usefulresults from this exercise.) A physician can put you on a more rigorouselimination diet, which may get the same results faster, but withconsiderably greater inconvenience.2. Discuss the problem with a good Gastroenterologist, who can properlydiagnose GI diseases with similar symptoms: lactose intolerance, celiacdisease (gluten intolerance), Crohn's disease, colitis, gynecologicalproblems, etc. This BB may contain recommendations on good GI's in yourarea.3. Eliminate caffeine from your diet for a one month trial period. Ifthis doesn't help, then go back to caffeine. The experiment certainlywon't be harmful. This includes all sources of caffeine, includingcoffee, tea, cola & chocolate.4. Add greens to your diet, particularly spinach, collards, etc. Theseseem to have the benefits of fiber supplements without the drawbacks. Inmy case they help produce excellent GI system performance. (Some peoplereact to lettuce, so this may be a poor choice.)Common items which cause problems are as follows:Caffeine;Milk & dairy products (may actually be lactose or casein intolerance);Wheat & glutenous products (may actually be Celiac disease);Alcohol;Sorbitol (artificial sweetener);Fructose (natural fruit sugar, especially pears);Lettuce;Any foods to which you have known allergies.PLEASE NOTE: IBS-D, with chronic diarrhea only, may have different causes, often related to gallbladder disease.Treatments may include consumption of calcium carbonate (e.g. caltrate),or treatment with drugs like colestid.Perhaps this information will be helpful to some percentage of IBSsufferers. My best wishes to IBS'ers in their quest for successfultreatment.[This message has been edited by awcfly (edited 08-30-2001).]


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