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Living with IBS post antibiotic therapy

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Posted 30 October 2001 - 06:32 PM

I first was diagnosed with IBS about 25yrs. ago while on birth control pills. I became very constipated (could not go for 5 days, and would have to take some measures (stool softners, supp, fleets enema, or MOM to relieve myself). I would also have a pain on the left side below my navel. I added more fiber into my diet and eventually came off the pill to have children, and my symptoms were well under control for 20 years.Then about six years ago, I began to have cramping and soft-stooling every 2-3 days after being on antibiotic therapy for adult-oncet acne for well over a year. I would have up to six of these stools within a couple of hours and rectal nerve-like pain that would last for up to six hours after. I would be curled up in bed then like a wounded vulnerable pathetic creature unable to function for that period of time. Sometimes I would try to defy it either by eating or by doing activity. The more I did either one of these, the more I continued to stool and be in pain. I learned to not eat or do activity until the pain subsided. Then I would have two or three decent days where I could be amongst people. Of course, I looked as if nothing was wrong with me then, so people had trouble understanding it. (Fibromyalgia is sometimes like that too, which I also have).The trouble with my GP, GI, and Gyno doctors, which I had seen through all of this, was they did not even entertain the fact that it was the antibiotic that was causing the problems and in the end blamed it either on "normal" IBS symptoms or stress. After all, it wasn't watery diarrhea that I was having. It wasn't until I had my post-hyst. exam (they had found endometriosis, and thought it was possible that my problems stemmed from this), that my Gyno doc scraped yeast from my vaginal wall. My stooling symptoms started out with first a vag. infection and then a bladder infection. The doc. said that the antibiotic had been masking my symptoms of odor and drainage, usually associated with a yeast infection. I decided to take myself off the antibiotic after hearing this but unfortunately my Gyno. doc only ordered a local antifungal med. Throughout the hysterectomy's before and after period, I had been trying probiotics and digestive enzymes which seemed somewhat successful, but soon my symptoms came back with a vengence. After receiving no help from regular doctors, I tried a an integrative medicine doctor. After three visits, he hadn't treated me with anything and I could see he was trying to sell me his Chelation IV therapy program, costing $3,000, not covered by insurance, and not enough substancial information that I could see that it would help my particular problem. When I began to question him about it and tell him it was not the treatment I cared to go with, he then escorted me to the door saying "I can't help you." I later found out he was a psychiatrist who had lost his son, and was trying new things. I was glad it turned out the way it did, as you will see later.My symptoms were escalating, so I went to a prominent nearby medical center and saw a GI specialist. Without doing any tests other than a simple abdominal flatplate x-ray, he ordered a couple of antibiotics. By this time, I was sure that antibioics caused the problem in the first place. He gave me no explanation other than a possible "over-growth" problem, and then insulted me saying "Perhaps if you were a happier person, you wouldn't be having these problems." No way, was I going to take any treatment from a doctor like that.So, my last ditch effort was to dig out an old paper someone handed out a Fibro. support meeting. It was from an Allergist who lived across the state who treated for food and chemical sensitivites and included a sheet on candida. I had pooh-poohed it at the time. I decided to write for more info. after reading about candida in the Endometriosis Sourcebook and even some clinical findings in Fibromyalgia patients. The allergy specialist worked with a team of allergists and had been in it for twenty-five years. Since I felt absolutely bloated and terrible after eating, I decided to give it a shot whether the candida thing was "legit" or not.What amazed me most was the double-blinded provocative sub-lingual testing. I had filled out a lenghty sheet of paper explaining my symptoms and writing out the foods and drink I had in my diet, as well as what tests I had done so far and what treatments I had and their effects. From this info., he tested for a couple of things at a time. I would not know what I was getting when. The amazing part was that some of the drops reproduced the pain in my lower-left abdomen and caused bloating/distention just like I had after I had eaten. Then they would try an antigen drop/s and time it to see if my symptoms improved, and after a couple of drops they did! They also did blood and intradermal tested which showed I was highly reactive to candida and other molds. This showed, as well, with the sublingual testing but also showed that the food additives: citric acid and benzoic acid (soda pop is the benzoic biggy here and many also contain citric acid). I also showed a sensitivity to milk protein (whey is the big one here). The treatment involved avoiding these things, sugars and fermented/aged foods, antigen drops and the med. Diflucan. The drug was expensive but I was fortunate my husband had a good insurance plan. Gradually, within a few months - after three years of misery - my symptoms subsided. The symptoms would only return if I went off the diet or went without my Diflucan for too long (the dosage was 1- 100mg tab, twice wkly.). I went from stooling frequently and pain 2-3 times wkly to one 1-2 times per month. I had found that citric acid was a major offender and that staying totally away from tomato sauce, juices, citrus fruits, potato products, or any fruity flavored packaged item with this additive in helped immensely. I used to get a stomach ache as a little girl after eating a spaghetti meal, so this was an inkling of what was to come, I guess. The intestines are particularly vulnerable to irritation after post-antibiotic infection. The additive problem seems to have more immediate abdominal effects, and the sugars seem to have a more frequent soft-stooling effect. My stools were also orangey in color, as was my vag drainage ### times before the treatment. As an LPN, I had recalled later having cleaned up this same type of stool after patients came out of the ICU post antibiotic/steroid therapies. These patients were often put on Nystatin (and antifungal). As a side note, I am not sure just how effective the antigen drops are, as it is difficult for me to gauge this yet. I have seen doctors after who give environmental allergy testing and particularly the candida diagnose no credibility. My allergist says this is political, and I believe there could be something to this. Candida has gotten a bad rap as unqualified practitioners have exploited it when their diagnosing and treatment skills are very unscientific. Since many medical doctors have ordered antibiotics with poor diagnosing techniques and follow-up treatment themselves, it has gotten them in increasing trouble. Even Dr. Crook, with his some-what over-zealous book has unnerved some of the medical profession. It is reported that in some states the medical board there can take away a doctor's license for making this diagnosis. I have read credible evidence concerning the side-effects of some antibiotics, birth control pills, and steroids in drug handbooks, and some convincing research on mycotic or fungal over-growth at some reliable medical sites. There are many alternative sites out there who just want to make a buck off it, and will not do the proper testing and effective treatments. There are, of course, other types of over-growths one can have and all must be diagnosed properly (i.e...tissue biopsy during colonoscopy and stool samples) and the proper species identified to order the proper anti-infective drug, be it antibacterials, amebicides, antifungals, anti-parisitics, antiprotozoals, etc..So, at any rate, I a very thankful to have found an Allergists who dealt with this sort of thing (many do not). It would be even more rewarding to see GI doctors working with proficient allergists to solve some of the "mysterious" IBS problems that can occur. I still have IBS, but it is basically under control again. I would suggest to IBS patients, if you have a sudden change in your bowel pattern, consistency and color, it is worth checking it out. If the doctor doesn't entertain the fact that you are on a medication that can cause bowel symptoms, or the fact that you could have picked up an infection from somewhere and your symptoms persist, it is time to find one who does. Of course there other conditions more mechanical in nature that can change one's GI system too, and those need to be ruled out as well.My basic management is with diet (including attention to food/additive triggers, and using fiber and fluids and heart healthy oil for lubrication) probiotics, a balanced Calcium with Magnesium supplement, Vit. B complex, exercise, relaxation, and establishing a regular routine of the above therapy and adjustment as necessary depending if one is "C" or "D". Best of health to all of you trying to figure out your particular problems and how to better manage your IBS. Sincerely,M. Posted Image


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