Posted 08 July 2018 - 12:39 PM
I'm new to the forum and not sure if this is the right place to post?
I am 20 years old, female, and have struggled most of my childhood with constipation. However myself, nor my parents ever really saw this as IBS. I'd get flare ups during school holidays or extended periods of relatively low physical activity, and my parents always knew when it would happen. I apparently was born with a slightly sluggish bowel, but I'm not sure if that is something that comes and goes, or is a permanent ailment.
However, in the past year or so I have been struggling more with loose stools, and have come to recognise my condition as IBS. Last summer I started to feel not a lump, but a hardness on my lower left side (just inside the hip), and because I have quite bad health anxiety, I was immediately worried. I would often get pain with this feeling and nothing in particular seemed to set it off or calm it down (other than sleep). I had blood tests, stool samples, and an ultrasound of the area and everything came back fine. My doctor said it was very likely I had IBS, but that she could refer me for a colonoscopy if I wanted. But the thought of a colonoscopy worried me a lot and so I didn't end up having one.
Whilst I was on holiday last summer (a road trip from Northern England to Northern Spain), I suffered very painful constipation on the journey down. At one point I couldn't even sit down on the car seat without being in awful pain. I was eventually able to go, but the problem persisted throughout the holiday, and though painful, this was seen as very normal for me. I have experienced one or two other times where, after straining to go, it has felt very uncomfortable to sit down for at least a few hours afterwards. I also get the pain in my lower left quite often, although I'm not sure why sometimes its there, and other times not.
This year however, or at least the last few months, I have extensively being experiencing much looser stools. I don't think my diet has changed much (I'm a university student so I dont have the best diet but I do try to eat as much veg as possible, but of course that can worsen IBS too), and so I am wondering what could be causing this. It seems to be worsening slightly, and a lot of the things in the past that used to cause me to have constipation, are now causing loose stools. During my university exams, and the weeks immediately before them, I was obviously quite stressed and this caused bad stomachs and loose bowels. Between then and now I have experienced constipation but there seemed to be a pattern of- nothing for a few days, then a very hard and dry stool which was hard to pass, followed by a very loose stool the next day, and the pattern kind of continued like that. It doesn't seem as though my bowels have gone back to normal (or at least my version of normal) since them. What's more frustrating about this is that at times I still find it very difficult to completely empty my bowels, but the stool which does come out is very soft and watery. I don't understand what has caused this change.
I often experience quite irrational anxieties (car journeys, holidays, meals out etc.) and in the past this has always upset my stomach to the point of very loose stools. But at the moment, it just seems to be loose stools no matter what I'm feeling/eating/doing. My stomach always feels distended (I would say I am usually quite slim - 5"1 and around 9st) but I feel like I have put on a lot of weight, or rather have the appearance of gaining weight due to my IBS and bloating. It's rare that I go a day without bloating, and generally have some form of stomach or bowel upset on a daily basis. I haven't been offered any medications by the doctors, although I know there are things such as Buscopan which you can buy in shops and chemists but I haven't tried anything as I'm keen to help myself as much as I can with medication being a last resort.
As you can probably tell by the length of this post, I am getting increasingly worried about what could be causing this. I've been reading up about alternating IBSC and IBSD and I do relate to some symptoms, but like I say, throughout 95% of my life, I have suffered from constipation, and it is only the last year or so that IBSD has been coming into the mix. Most IBS information websites state that people tend to get relief from their pain after a bowel movement, however my pain is frequently worsened or changed into some other pain.
I feel very down and distressed at times, and not sure how to help myself. Any advice would be appreciated!! Thanks!!
Posted 08 July 2018 - 03:30 PM
First: Realize you are not alone and that lots of folks (me included) have similar stories.
Second: Develop a thick skin for folks (especially idiot Doctors) that say "It's all in your head." b/c that's just not true. What's true is that your symptoms may be correlated with stress.
Third: What have you tried to mitigate your symptoms? What specialists have you seen? I'd find an IBS friendly gastroenterologist and perhaps an ND.
Many folks with IBS-C get some relief from IBGard, Atrantil and similar prokinetic supplements. It's also worth checking for SIBO/SIYO/SIFO and exploring if you have a gut microbiota issue. Lots of folks get some (usually temporary) relief from Xifaxan when SIBO is indicated in IBS-C. If you are going to play in the supplement area, you *must* have an ND and/or MD supervising your supplements and meds. Don't try to mess around on your own.
Standard disclaimer: I'm not a doctor, and this is not medical advice.