Hey guys, I'm a 24 year old male and I've been dealing with IBS symptoms since the fall of 2008 and this year I have felt really good, what I would call "normal", almost no stomach problems at all, and I thought I'd post what I've done so hopefully it will help others with their symptoms as well. Probably going to be a long post but I just want to give as much info as possible.
I had stomach problems as a kid (4-6 years old), I was always complaining about stomach aches and had diarrhea a lot and I was diagnosed as lactose intolerant. My symptoms eventually disappeared, and I started eating dairy again, and ate dairy all the time, never had any problems so I figured I just grew out of it which supposedly can happen. Then in the fall of 2008 I started having quite a bit of stomach trouble. Alternating diarrhea and constipation, weird pressure in my head and chest, felt nauseous, and had constant pain in my lower abdomen. I dealt with this for a few months and then started seeing blood in my stools and decided I better contact my doctor. That was very tough for me because I'm a very private person, it was really embaressing to talk about. I was told I have IBS by my primary care physician and he told me to just eat a lot of fiber. I was in very good shape and ate very healthy already so this was a disappointing solution for me but I accepted it. After another couple of months where it seemed like I felt sick every single day (diarrhea, nausea, etc) I called my doctor back and said I know this could just be normal IBS symptoms but there has to be something I can take. In summer 2009, I was referred to a specialist who decided I should have a colonoscopy and endoscopy. After this I was told I have GERD and was prescribed Omeprazole. The doc also told me to drink Citrucel, a fiber drink, every night and take culturelle, a probiotic pill. My symptoms got a little better and sometimes I'd feel pretty good for a week and get really excited but then I'd have some weeks where I had diarrhea all week and felt like I had made no progress. I stuck with those same 3 treatments throughout 2009 and most of 2010, and in 2010 at various times I also tried eating probiotic yogurt, drinking aloe vera juice, eating pumpkin seeds, apple cider vinegar. I never went more than a few days feeling really good. I went back to the specialist in the fall of 2010 and I had some stomach x-rays done which came back negative and he also said I should be tested for lactose intolerancy. The test involves taking blood 5 times over the course of a couple of hours and i unfortunately fainted after the first time so they said I couldn't continue the test. I decided that I'd try giving up dairy and also eggs (my uncle has stomach problems and found eggs to be a major culprit). I switched to fat free Lactaid milk, ued to drink regular skim milk, and I noticed no difference in taste. Also has all the same nutritional facts. I eat cereal with lactaid milk every day. I also stopped eating eggs. Not all foods that have eggs in them, just straight up eggs. I continued to drink Citrucel every night, I actually like the taste, it's just like an orange fruit drink. I take omeprazole, but I'm trying to ween myself off of it. I just buy it over the counter, CVS brand and right now I take it every other day and after this cycle I'm going to go once every 3 days and so on... I also just pay close attention to what foods bother me, for example pasta with red sauce for some reason always bothers my stomach so I limit that and don't eat a ton when I do have it. So far in 2011, my stomach has felt great. I used to be afraid to travel far from home, stay at a friend's place for the weekend, etc. and I don't even think about that anymore. I've had ice cream a few times this year and even eggs over easy with no ill effects.
So basically what has helped me is switching to lactaid milk and limiting other dairy, limiting eggs, omeprazole (started with prescribed 30 mg dose I believe, now take over the counter either 15mg or 20 mg), and drinking citrucel every night. I don't think any of those things are big sacrifices, Lactaid milk tastes the same, not hard to not eat eggs all the time, citrucel I think actually tastes good (and helps me not eat a snack at night), and omeprazole is just one little pill.
I don't think I was just lactose intolerant because even when I'd feel sick all the time, there'd be weeks I felt fine and I'd have tons of dairy every day. I think though even if you're not lactose intolerant, dairy is just something that people have a tough time digesting sometimes and I figured if Lactaid tastes the exact same, why not just drink that instead and avoid any potential problems with dairy.
Another thing I've done this year and towards the end of last year is start running. I read that running helps take pressure off the colon. I have been weightlifting for many years but never really did much cardio, so that may have contributed as well.
I hope this helps someone out there. I know what it feels like to feel sick all the time and just have to worry about that whenever you're making plans or anything. I'll try to check the thread again a few times in the next week in case anyone has any questions.
Last piece of advice I'd have is don't be afraid to tell your doctor anything. I know it's such an embaressing subject but you'll feel so much better once you tell them everything and they can rule out more serious diseases.
Good for you, JD. I hope your success continues. Did you totally eliminate all dairy or just milk? Was your MD specific about Citrucil (as opposed to Metamucil or another)? I've not heard about Culturelle... are you still using it?
Thank you rlp, I appreciate it.
I did totally eliminate all dairy for a few months, no cheese, ice cream, etc. After feeling really good for a while I tried working some dairy back into my diet and in the past couple of months I've eaten pizza and ice cream with no ill effects. I plan to stick with Lactaid milk and try to only have things like pizza, ice cream, lasagna, and other dairy heavy products only once or twice a week.
My doctor specifically told me to get Citrucel. This was my gastro specialist. He said it is a more gentle type of fiber than something like Metamucil which is psyllium fiber and supposedly can cause problems for people with IBS.
Culturelle is a probiotic pill that is supposed to I guess promote the good type of bacteria in your digestive system. I don't still take it every day but any day that my stomach is a little shaky, like I have loose stools or something like that I'll take one. I've probably taken maybe 4 or 5 pills of that total this year. I think it gives you all the benefits that people say yogurt will give you, but you don't have to eat the dairy to get it if you take this pill. I plan on continuing to take it maybe once a month going forward or as I feel I need it.
Hey JD i spent a little while reading your post and the more I read, the more it sounded like what I have been dealing with. I just started trying the lactaid and I didn't realize how important the fiber was. With the Citrucel, I have never heard of that before where can I buy that and it's a liquid? Also the fear of just living everyday life absolutely sucks and has ruined my confidence. Was it a gradual process or was it like you woke up one day feeling great all of a sudden? Just wanted to get as much info as possible, hope to hear back soon and that everything is still going well.
I hear you. I hope you figure it out soon and can just do whatever you want without worrying about feeling sick.
Citrucel is a powder, I get it at CVS. It's kind of expensive, probably $17, but lasts a couple of months I think. You just take a big spoonful and mix it in water and stir it around. It's orange flavored, and not gross tasting at all.
I'm still doing pretty good. Still every few months I'll have one episode of diarrhea or something but I'd guess people without stomach problems could get it that often. About a month and a half ago I had really bad burning under my ribs and nausea and it lasted for about 2 weeks. Would affect me from after lunch until about 5 and was really starting to affect my work life. I went to see my doctor and he told me to take pepcid AC for 40 days. I think it's a 20 mg dosage. I felt fine within 2 weeks and feel normal now.
I can't read that whole novel I wrote above so I'll just tell you what my routine is now, i think it's pretty similar to what I wrote above.
I eat shredded wheat with lactaid milk for breakfast. Gets me some good fiber in the morning. I drink coffee every morning. I eat a cup of cereal about 3 hours after breakfast. Something delicious like Reeses Puffs. I have a cold cut sandwich with usually an apple and another cup of cereal at lunch. Another 3 hours after that I have a muscle milk protein shake (lactose free), then I go to the gym then eat dinner after the gym. Dinner is lots of different things, I don't really watch my diet that carefully, but I can say it's usually not going to be something with lots of dairy like pizza or a pasta with cream sauce. Before going to bed I have the citrucel drink and I take the Pepcid AC.
I limit dairy and eggs as much as possible, but I just had ice cream 2 days ago and felt fine. Also I work out every day except Sunday. I lift weights Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and run on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I think working out does help my stomach. It was very tough to get started with running, because it bothered my stomach but i worked through it and I'm good now. I haven't actually taken one of those Culturelle pills in several months as I ran out and was feeling fine still so I never bought more.
My life has totally changed from 2009-2010 where I was lucky if i went 3 straight days without feeling awful all day. I did start feeling better pretty quickly in retrospect. Thing is you'll need to feel good for like 3 months straight or some long period of time before you can finally say you're better, you know? There were times where I thought I was better then i'd have a week straight of diarrhea or nausea. I can't say for sure what exactly helped me because I incorporated so many things at the same time. I think you can do anything I did without even consulting a doctor, aside from the Pepcid AC (Omeprazole). You can get Pepcid AC over the counter, but I'm not sure if it's bad to take it if you don't actually need it. If you do have nausea, you may need it, because suposedly my nausea was from GERD which omeprazole helps relieve symptoms of. But for me switching to Lactaid is no big deal at all, Citrucel is easy, and I love my shredded wheat cereal. Kind of miss eggs but not really.
If you're going to try one of the things I'd go with the Citrucel. My doctor said (and this is the gastro specialist) that it just makes hard stools softer, and loose stools harder so it just evens everything out. There have been times in the past year where I thought I was going to have a loose bowel movement, got that gross feeling in my stomach, and I'd go to the bathroom and actually just have a regular bowel movement. I think it's prob due to the Citrucel.
Hope this helps. Good luck