Join Date: Nov 2012
Re: Sulphur burps, vomiting and diarrhea: recurring
I have had sulfur burps --> vomiting + diarrhea since I was 13; I'm 42 now. My mom took me for a lot of tests, which showed nothing, and we gave up. I had episodes on average about every 2 weeks. Things got worse at one point during college, and I went to an allergist, just because I had been to every other type of doctor. He did a bunch of skin scratch tests and gave me a list of 20 foods I was allergic to. I didn't quite believe in any of this, but I stuck to the diet and did well. Gradually, I strayed. Gradually, all the episodes came back. It took me until I was 30 years old to understand that yes, my problem is a food allergy. There may be many causes for these symptoms, but in my case at least, it is food allergies. I am allergic to eggs, garlic, dates, cherries, dill, and cantaloupe.
Some may say that what I have is not a true food allergy, but in other, similar cases, all the biological hallmarks of allergy are seen on biopsy. Whether you want to call it a true allergy or intolerance or whatever, the point here is that these foods trigger a predictable, repeatable reaction by immune system.
Another thing to point out is that skin scratch tests are not at all always reliable indicators of food allergies such as mine. Not all such allergies show up on scratch tests, and some extra things can show up on scratch tests that one is not actually allergic to, as well.
Here's what happens to me. (Don't read if this will gross you out.) I eat various foods that I'm allergic to, and my sensitivity to them builds up. Finally, I eat some amount of one of the foods I'm allergic to - the amount varies with each food; I'm way more allergic to some things than to others - and an episode starts. As a teenager and young adult, it could start any time of day. My food wouldn't digest and would sit in my stomach for 10-12 hours. Then come the sulfur burps, and at that point, it's inevitable. I get some stomach and intestinal discomfort, the diarrhea starts, and then I throw up. Each vomiting episode consists of several bouts of retching, with simultaneous diarrhea. I typically have several episodes about 30-60 min. apart, until I have thrown up absolutely everything in my stomach, down to the yellowish bile. Once I've thrown up the bile, I'm done throwing up. I may have a few more episodes of diarrhea, and I'm totally exhausted and can hardly move probably because there's just no nourishment left in me. The nausea may continue mostly at a low level throughout the next 12 hours or so, and I don't eat for most of the next 12 hours. After a few hours, I start drinking 7-Up, and once I can hold that down, my energy starts to come back. When I start eating food, I stick to the BRAT (bananas-rice-applesauce-toast) diet. Then the next day, I'm fine. Nowadays, my episodes almost invariably start in the early morning, and I start throwing up at about 6:00 am. Lately, I've been having more of these, which is why I'm here!!!
I've found that my allergies have changed a bit over time, but not much. I've gradually added more foods to the list, for one thing, and I've never become un-allergic to something. (How do I know? There are always occasional mishaps, where I eat something that I didn't know contained a food I'm allergic to; then I suffer.) And, like I said, my episodes are almost exclusively in the mornings now. I suspect that the reason I'm having more trouble right now is that I'm becoming more allergic to garlic. I had a little ketchup today (very little), and now I'm at the sulfur burp stage. Ketchup, I've just now realized, has garlic, and I used to be able to eat it without difficulty. But now I can forget commercial pasta sauces & ketchup. I had a terrible episode a few weeks ago after eating spaghetti with a marinara sauce from the grocery store.
Another thing: once I eliminated the things I'm allergic to from my diet for a while, together with dairy for a couple weeks because the allergic reaction rips up my stomach lining and causes a temporary (secondary) lactose intolerance, I felt better than I ever thought it was possible to feel. I didn't know that people didn't get low-level nausea pretty much every time they ate. I had never experienced life without chronic, low-level nausea and discomfort.
So, of course, I wonder whether all of you may have allergies to one or more common foods. You could consult an allergist who specializes in food allergies, or a gastroenterologist who knows about such things. In the end, it was a knowledgeable gastroenterologist who solved my problem.
You could also consider trying - in consultation with your doctor - an elimination diet. Try 2-3 days of just boiled white rice, for instance, maybe with a little vegetable oil, because it's really hard to get enough calories eating just boiled white rice. Then gradually add more foods. I'm not medically trained; please do consult your doctor before embarking on an elimination diet.
Now, I'm dealing with related issues in my kids. My older son had a (different) reaction to milk in his first and second years of life. My younger son, now 3, was entering failure to thrive territory (very low weight), and his gastroenterologist suspects wheat allergy, and maybe allergies to other things. His symptoms are also different. As his gastroenterologist says, allergies can be specific to even very small sections of the gastrointestinal tract. His skin test is negative for wheat, by the way, but we and everyone else noticed a huge difference when he stopped eating it.
Anyway, I hope this helps someone. Very best wishes to all of you. I know how unpleasant all of this is.