After never having a problem with constipation (a regular bowel movement once a day after morning coffee was the norm), for the past 3 months, I've had recurring constipation, followed by periods of normalcy and/or periods of frequent bowel movements (although not generally loose or watery). There have been the occasional thin, narrow or pencil-like stools, but then most of the time the stools are normal-sized for me. I've noticed no blood that I can tell, except once on the toilet paper (but that has been explained). There is also no pain.
I suffer from hypertension for which I take lisinopril and frequent heartburn for which I occasionally take ranitidine when symptomatic. I recently upped my doses of both lisinopril and ranitidine, from 10 to 20 and 75 to 150 respectively, but have ruled both out as the cause (ie, I didn't take either medication and still got constipated). I've been taking metamucil 2-3 times a day and it works most of the time, but not always. I've also been to see the doctor and he did a DRE where he found an anal fissure (the cause of the blood the one time I saw it) and he had blood drawn, which included a liver function test, a CRP, an ESR and a CBC, as well as a thyroid test. All were perfectly normal. No anemia or raised levels of anything to cause concern.
I just came off a week of perfectly normal bowel movements and now I'm constipated again. I'm of course worried about colon cancer, but maybe it could be something like a dairy intolerance, although I've never experienced that before. I'm 41 btw and as far as I know there is no colon cancer in my family at least at a young age, although my family situation is a bit complicated as I never knew my father and was adopted by my maternal grandparents. But no one on my mother's side had this issue.
Finally, I cannot afford a colonoscopy. I'm an independent contractor with no health insurance and don't have 2 grand lying around for the test. My doctor said with the blood test results he didn't think it was cancer, especially considering my age, etc. What do you all think?
Last edited by Random User; 01-09-2011 at 11:06 PM.
No one here can diagnose for sure, but those symptoms sound like my IBS-C (irritable bowel syndrome with tendency toward constipation.) At least, that's what I assume I have, having been told so by several doctors over the years, but they've never done tests or offered a colonoscopy. They all say, "eat high fiber cereal, drink a lot of water, exercise." When I explain it's a chronic problem, they say, "Yeah, chronic constipation is difficult to deal with." I have the same concerns as you, though.
I have had this problem for over a decade now (since age 20.) I'm going to try some elimination diets this year, and if nothing changes, try to push for a colonoscopy.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
-Probiotic yogurt EVERY day helps some people (make sure it says "live active culture." Some like Activia.)
-Others need to eliminate dairy completely
-Others find relief on a gluten-free diet
-Others find a very high-fiber diet helpful (Fiber One cereal has been recommended to me), but some find a lot of fiber makes it WORSE. Be sure to drink a lot of water when you take or eat fiber.
-One possible cause of IBS is overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, and it can be treated with an antibiotic (not sure the name, but it starts with an R.)
-Edit: They also suggest eliminating caffeine for awhile.
By the way, most people with IBS are women. It may have something to do with hormones. I hope this goes away for you. It's awful to live with it every day and people just assume you don't eat enough fiber, or something simple. If you try the elimination diets (dairy or gluten, etc.), they say it can take a few days to a few weeks before things get better.
Since you're concerned, you might want a referral to a GI doctor, though.
If you find an answer, please let us all know.