View Full Version : Is this just IBS?

11-06-2002, 01:41 PM
I am very worried and getting more worried by the day so I hope somebody here can help...

I am a 27 year old male with no previous serious health problems. I am average weight, get exercise and eat pretty healthy.

For the past few months I have had bloating every now and then and slight constipation along with stomach pains. Before that I went to the toilet about once a day but when constipated it could be 2-3 days without having a BM (although felt like I needed to go each day).

In the last month I had a fairly regular pain which had been constant in my left hand side just under the bottom rib of my rib cage. If felt like stitch so I went to see my Doctor.

I told him about my bowel issues and the pain in my side so he felt my stomach, asked if the pain was worse when I moved or coughed etc and it wasn't and so told me he thought it was muscular.

However, I then made the mistake of reading about cancer and started to panic when I read that one of the symptoms is bowel changes!

Whether it is coincidence or not I cannot be sure but over the next few days I started to get frequent urges to go to the toilet and the BM was far looser than usual, thin and feathery and often contained what looked like undigested food (please forgive the emphasis on detail here!).

I went to see the Doctor again (same practice, different Doctor) and told him about my differing symptons and he too felt my stomach and then prescribed me Fybogel (fibre suppliment?) to try and bulk up the stools.

This imrpoved matters slightly, although I was still seeing a large amount of undigested food in my stools plus I was needing to go to the toilet upto 8 times a day! I was also starting to get anxiety attacks (something I started getting irregulaly in July this year) so decided to visit the Doctors again.

Because I was suffering bad with the anxiety at that point and the BM had become mostly constant diahorrea the Doctor (a different one again!) also physically checked my stomach and agreed with the other doctors that it was IBS and suggested I could try betablockers to try and calm me down.

Well, I didn't take the beta-blockers and decided to try and 'get a grip' by myself and tried to chill out and went running every couple of days and did some physical work with a friend to try and take my mind off things.

However, although a few days ago my BM seemed to be getting a little more solid, in the past 3 days I have suffered diahorrea from the moment I woke up. After about 3-4 trips to the toilet (in the space of an hour) I am then usually OK for the rest of the day with no compulsive desire to visit the toilet, although my stomach has some (bearable) pain nearly all of the time.

I know that after 3 trips to the Doctors I should be convinced it is IBS but I am not. All these pains and feeling seem so strange to me, I can't help wondering if it could be something more serious which warrants more serious attention.

Syptoms: -

Often need to have a BM the moment I wake up (certainly within 30mins) and this is preceeded by very 'burbly' stomach noises
Varying pain - feeling of stitch in left bottom rib, general stomach ache, feeling like there is something under my rib, sometimes similar pain on the right hand side (these pains tend to alternate)
Often need to burp a lot after eating, although this can be worse after certain foods - especially if they are greasy
Sometimes feel a little sick at the thought of eating or after eating (usually have very good appetite)
When stools are not diahhorea they look like they have undigested food in them - there does not appear to blood in any of the stools I have had
I have had diahhorrea failry constantly for the past 2 weeks
I have not been sick
I have lost about 3 pounds of weight in the past 2 weeks

Sorry for the super long post - didn't want to leave anything to chance! I hope you can offer me some advice/support and tell me whether these are all just syptoms of IBS?

If I can be fairly certain it is IBS I will be a lot happier - my concern at the moment is that it could be something more serious such as cancer and I/my doctor is not heeding the signs...

Thanks in advance - Ben

11-06-2002, 06:22 PM
I have IBS. The symptoms you give do sound like IBS. I know, it is scary. I 1st had looooose stools, then very thin stools (I also read about cancer, colon). Now its total constipation. The abdominal pain is horrible and the gas!!! I take fiber, but not much helps! It's frustrating I know. It's been over one year!!!! I can't offer help too much, but your'e not alone!!!!

11-07-2002, 01:20 AM
tinkers - cheers for that - safety in numbers at least I suppose!

Super Sarah
11-07-2002, 05:11 AM
I think that as well as continuing with the Metamucil/Fybogel, that you need to take some Acidophilus caps to re-balance your gut flora. This is Lactobacillus and is the good bacteria that lives in your gut. If you have gas and a 'gurgly' belly, this is an indication that you need to re-balance. Take them twice daily on an empty stomach and keep them in the fridge. You should start to notice a difference in a few days. You can get these from any healthfood store or pharmacy and you should buy them from the fridge section.

When your doc examined your belly, did he feel your upper right belly and if so, did you have any pain? It is just that sometimes having problems eating fatty foods can indicate a gallbladder problem and belly ache in one part can be referred and felt in any other part of your belly.

Just a thought, but from what you have described, it does sound like IBS, especially with your anxiety problems too.

Also, take a look at your diet and try and cut out fatty and spicy food, caffeine, soda and dairy perhaps. Drink plenty of water and try the Metamucil and Acidophilis caps and see if this helps. Also, peppermint and chamomile tea are very good for settling upset and sore stomachs.

11-08-2002, 08:47 AM
If you are excessively worried about cancer (or anything else) your symptoms will only deteriorate. I would ask the doctor to refer me to a GI and have a colonoscopy done. In any case, I can't see why your condition does not warrant a specialist.

Good luck! Oh, and try to exercise, it helps with the anxiety (advice from a fellow sufferer)!

11-08-2002, 08:53 AM
Hi Tansim,

Yes, I realise that my worrying has been making my condition worse but, if in the next week or so my BM etc return to normal, would that indicate I am not suffering from anything more serious?

Or can these BM symptoms come and go whether they are IBS or something more serious such as Cancer?

I am presuming that if it is IBS, then by eating right and not worrying excessively, my condition should improve. But if it was something serious, such as cancer, presumably no matter what I did mentally or diet wise would improve the condition? Am I right to assume this?

Super Sarah
11-09-2002, 06:27 AM

Basically, a diagnosis of IBS is based on a process of exclusion of other more serious disease, so by having blood tests done, a scan of your belly, a colonoscopy and possibly an endoscopy that all come back negative would lead to a diagnosis of IBS. IBS is not likely to lead to stomach cancer, as it is not a recognised disease process, rather it is a collection of very uncomfortable and painful symptoms that all add up to a syndrome.

Also, I am afraid to say that the more you worry the worse your symptoms will be, as it is commonly recognised that anxiety can make IBS a whole lot worse due to the mind/gut link. Basically, the brain releases certain chemicals when we become anxious, with serotonnin being one and these chemicals also affect the smooth muscle of the gut and when the gut is affected you can get cramping or spasm like pains and constipation/diarrhea.

I really think that you need to try and relax about this and if 3 different docs have told you that you have IBS, then they can't all be wrong. The more you get anxious about it, then the worse your stomach will be.

I would strongly suggest that you persevere with the Metamucil and also the Acidophilus. This is safe to take on a long-term basis and the better the good bacteria is in your gut, then the less likely you are to get diarrhea and a bad stomach generally. Take it twice daily on an empty stomach morning and evening.

I see you are in the UK? Well, homeopathic remedies are widely available there - more so than in the States and they can be very helpful for stomach problems and are very safe to take.

As I said before, Chamomille and Peppermint teas are very good for settling an upset and painful stomach.

You can also get Chamomilla as a homeopathic remedy that is good for bad cramping type stomach aches that are better for warmth. I don't know whether you ever get stomach ache after you have been angry or upset? Well, if you do, this is the right remedy to take.

Colocynth is another good remedy for stomach pain. If you have severe cramps that are better for doubling up and bending over then this is good. Also good for diarrhea with it too.

Arsenicum Album can be helpful in cases of stomach pains with vomiting and diarrhea and it is a good remedy to take for food poisoning or if going travelling for dysentry. Although primarily for diarrhea and vomiting it can be very effective in cases of just diarrhea and stomach pains and sometimes diarrhea on its own. You would normally have burning pains in your stomach though, so this is also a good remedy for reflux and gastritis and also stomach ulcers where you have burning pains that are better for drinking small sips.

Nux Vomica can also be good and it is very good for spasmodic and cramping pain in the stomach that is accommpanied by either diarrhea or constipation. Also, good for the after effects of stomach problems from overindulgence in food or alcohol. It is commonly known as the hang over remedy.

Anyway, try not to worry too much and try my suggestions of continuing with the Metamucil/Acidophilus and Chamomile and Peppermint teas and the homeopathic remedies if you like.

Acupuncture may also be very helpful in helping you to sleep, reducing your anxiety and your stomach too. It will help you to feel better generally and it good for stomach pains and diarrhea too. It will definitely improve your sense of wellbeing.

Take care


11-09-2002, 02:24 PM
Ben, the test for colon cancer is blood in your stools. If you don't have blood, it's likely not cancer. The test is easy.

Now it doesn't have to be blood you can see. It tests for microscopic blood. Sigmoidoscopy and Barium enema are other screening tests that can be used for early detection and prevention of colon cancer, but colonoscopy remains the gold standard.

You definately need a fecal occult blood test. If they find no blood, then cancer is very very unlikely at your age unless you have a first degree relative (mother, father, brother or sister) with colon cancer that developed before the age of 60. OR if you have ever had polyps.

You'd know if you had polyps because they bleed too.

I know IBS is a difficult diagnosis. Good luck to you.

11-10-2002, 03:30 AM
Sarah and Linderella,

Thanks very much for taking the time to reply.

Finding things are much better now BM (only one a day!) wise but will probably see the doctor again mid-nextweek and see what he recommends.

However I would assume that if I tell him my situation has improved he is likely to tell me no further tests are necassary - should I push for them anyway?

I think that is my last question now! You have all been a great help.

11-14-2002, 04:01 AM
Oh the irony!

Well, I have started keeping a journal of everything I eat, when my BMs are and what they are like etc (I'm sure it will make fasinating reading :D)

As suggested by the posters here, I have been taking: -

Aloe Vera juice (15ml, twice a day)
Yakult drink (yogurt drink with friendly bacteria)
St John's Wort (not mentioned here but somebody mentioned it was good - so what the hell!)

It seems curiously as if I have formed a new BM habit. I never used to go until about 11am but now, the minute I open my eyes I'm off to the toilet. Then I go again a couple of hours later - curious??

Haven't had a bout of diahhorea for 7 days until this morning - which REALLY annoyed me, as it was the first morning I had woken and felt absolutely no discomfort etc Then, on my second trip to the loo (first trip was fine), I had the big D!

But I can't find anything different in my list of things I ate?? Also the diohorrea came on completely without pain, cramps etc?? I mean I suppose the lack of pain is a good thing but it is frustrating getting gradually better to suffer this setback.

I wondered if it might be because of lettuce? I had lettuce twice yesterday and also last night in some herbal 'calm/sleep' tablets I took - does lettuce have magic 'go to the toilet' properties?

Why do these setbacks always come just as you are starting to feel more positive?
Finally, have any one with IBS tried using Caprylic acid? I bought some when I stocked up on all the other stuff at the health shop. It supposedly gets rid of yeast overgrowth, which some people suggest could be the cause of IBS.

I was waiting until my BM's stabilised before starting to take it as it can cause a bout of loose stools as any yeast inside you dies off. Has anyone else tried it? Any success?

11-14-2002, 08:08 AM
See the thing about IBS is that for a lot of people it's exactly like you describe. The symptoms wax and wane over time. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason. For some people, certain foods are triggers. For others, food doesn't matter one bit. For some, stress/anxiety is a big trigger, for others it's not a trigger at all. Trying to figure out what sets it off can be an exercise in futility.

It's hard to tell whether a certain food is what triggers you as food takes awhile to digest. The symptoms might have just happened and had nothing to do with what you ate. Sometimes people mistakenly avoid certain foods because they had a reaction once when that reaction would have happened no matter what they ate. You mentioned in your post that anxiety is a problem for you. It's likely also a trigger.

At the very least the doctor should perform a stool sample test. That will test for blood and a host of different types of parasites. IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion. The usual tests performed before they make the diagnosis are stool samples, if negative for blood and parasites then they move on to other tests. Some do a gallbladder scan. Most do either a colonoscopy, barium enema or sigmoidoscopy. Being that you're only 27, unless you have a serious family history of colon cancer, they might opt for the barium enema just because it's cheaper and easier on you.

There is no cure for IBS. The best you can hope for is symptom control. That is what the doctor is for. If anxiety is a major problem, you need to treat the anxiety. Medication and CBT is helpful to many people.

There are many things to try to help you control your symptoms. Working with a good doctor, one who is knowlegable specifically about IBS, is your best bet.

It's not curious that your bowel habits are changing being that you've added all kinds of supplements. I would add one thing at a time and see how it goes for a couple weeks. By adding all those things in a short amount of time, you're never going to be sure what is helping and what isn't helping. People can give you advise on what helps them but it may not help you at all. Everyone with IBS is individual. That's why working with the doctor is so important. Make sure you tell the doctor about all the things you're taking. Some medications interact with one another. Some are redundant.

It's hard not to focus on your bowels when they control what you can and can't do. Trying to accept the diagnosis and quit looking for other reasons is the first step. Then move on to. "OK, I have IBS. I can't cure it and it may change from day to day. But I'm going to work with my doctor to try and find medications that help me." I can't stress enough that having a great doctor will help you tremendously.

Good luck to you.

11-14-2002, 10:03 AM
Hi Lindarella,

That was interesting to read as I'm new to this IBS thing and haven't known what to expect.

In myself I have felt much better these last few days, (no panics etc) which was why this morning's diahorrea was such a curiosity for me - but having read what you say, it seems it is something that I should simply be prepared for with IBS.

I think I will see the Doctor again. Trouble in the UK is that we have the National Health Service, which basically means that if you don't look like you might die in 24 hours, the Doctors don't take things too serioulsy! That's an exaggeration but any UK residents will know what I mean.

The Doctor handed me the IBS prognosis within 5 minutes of entering the room. Probably because of my age, I had mentioned my recent anxiety and the fact that I have no history in my family of any more serious diseases etc, but still, I haven't been to the Doctors in years so it just seemed a little premature to slap IBS on me so quickly without a more thorough investigation.

I think I will ask them to at least perform a stool sample test, that way I can be a little more confident in there theory. I'm sure they know what they are looking for with IBS as they must see it everyday, but I can't help feeling that the conclusion was arrived at rather hastily...

The last doctor I saw told me that they generally only send people for more tests if they are in great pain, losing lot's of weight or can't keep their food down etc

But I shall make an appointment next week and ask.

11-27-2002, 03:09 AM
Hello everyone,

I went to see the Doc last week and told him about my fears of serious illness. We had a long chat and he told me that he was as certain as he could be that it was nothing serious. I asked him how he could be sure and he told me that...

1. I don't have the symptoms (no major weight loss, no visible blood in stools, no sickness, no fever etc)
2. I'm too young - serious illness, whilst obviously possible is disparigingly rare in people my age
3. No family history of cancer

He also told me that he would have to be failry certain it was something other than IBS before sending me for any hospital tests as they themselves are not without risks.

He explained that I was in a cycle of anxiety making me feel bad and feeling bad increasing my anxiety and the important thing was to break that cycle. I left feeling much better than I had been doing.

So - one week later, my BM are seemingly normal, 1 or 2 a day, normal looking, no major stomach ache...

However, I still have the feeling that all is not right but I am not sure yet whether it is all in my mind and tied in with the anxiety...

I'm still getting discomfort in different areas - sometimes one side, sometimes the other, sometimes my stomach, sometimes more around my back... I suppose it's possible this is due to the motility problems associated with IBS?

However, the pains that I have don't seem to be tied in with bowel movements.

Secondly, when I say pain - that is perhaps too strong a word. They are more like 'nagging pains' - not enough to make you stop what you are doing, but enough to make you think 'what's all that about'

It is entirely possible that they seem worse because I am hyper sensitive at the moment to any little feeling my body makes, plus they don't seem to be getting any worse. If I'm involved in what I'm doing I tend not to notice them. But when I do it starts my mind ticking again...

I still haven't had a stool blood test done and I'm wondering whether to try and get one done - not sure if they sell them over the counter here in the UK?

So I guess my question at the moment is - are these fairly constant nagging pains usual in IBS? Like I say, it's not like they are anywhere near as bad as some people on here have desribed their pain (God bless you) so maybe I should just try ignoring them for a few weeks?

Super Sarah
11-27-2002, 04:53 AM
Unfortunately, nagging stomach pains are indicative of IBS and yes, it is all to do with the peristaltic action of the gut going one way when it should be going the other way.

Also you anxiety about this really does not help. As I said in a previous post, it is to do with the mind/gut link and checmicals that are released by the brain that have a direct effect on the smooth muscle of the gut.

Are you still taking Metacucil, Yakult and St John's Wort? If so carry on and you may also like to try adding in a Calcium supplement also. If you have been having diarrhea, then this will help your intestines to absorb more water back naturally and make your stools bulk up more thus stopping the diarrhea and also the stomach pains.

I have to say that blood in the stools can be indicative of cancer, but not just cancer. It can also be a sign of other diseases too. Blood in the stools can also indicate inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis and crohn's disease, but you would probably have a fever with these also. It can also be piles.

I think that you really need to actively try to reduce your stress about all this and just try to accept what your doctor has told you. If you ever started to have severe stomach pains, then I am sure that he would send you for more tests if he felt it was necessary. IBS can cause all the symptoms that you describe and stress can also make it worse so try and relax about it and accept what he has told you.

I do know what it is like, as I have been there myself with severe stomach pains and diarrhea. I found that my IBS was caused by a lot of food intolerances, namely wheat, dairy and milk. Since cutting these out I have been a lot better. However, not long ago, I went to bed one evening not feeling that well with mild stomach ache and the next morning I awoke with a raging fever, severe stomach pains that were so bad that I could not move, constant diarrhea that had lots of mucus and blood in it. I was so sick that I had to go to the ER, where I had my belly proded, poked, x-rayed and ultrasounded. I had bloods done and an emergency endoscopy and colonoscopy, which showed a very inflammed large intestine with lots of infected and inflammed diverticular pockets. I was rehydrated with IV fluids, given a pain shot and then sent home with two lots of antibiotics for the infection and steroid tablets for the inflammation.

I was extremely worried myself when I got sick, but this just goes to show that although I had blood in my stools I did not have cancer at all, it was diverticulitis and this can also cause you to have blood in your stools. I got over this infection and am better now and I use a lot of natural methods to help my stomach now. Although I will always have diverticulosis and I just have to be careful.

Anyway, I hope this helps?

11-27-2002, 05:16 AM
Yes Super Sarah, this has helped a lot. Sorry to hear about your 'episode' - that must have been mightily scary - glad you got through it to offer me your support!

I always find comfort in numbers and just checking that others have the same symptons etc...

I'm eating pretty much what I always have done again now - I'm inclined to think that the worrying is more of a trigger for me than anything else, but I guess I will learn over time.

Thanks all.

12-06-2002, 04:06 PM
This is all very interesting to me. About 3 weeks ago, and with no prior problems, I became constipated. Also, there was a feeling in my abdomen, like a hard nosed stool was pressing against my large intestine. It was on my left side and about an inch or two below and the left of my navel. Along with this, were many sharp, tingling little stabbing pains. No really bad pain in either case, just discomfort. And these little pains all move around a bit. Even the larger pain like that from a hard stool moves around several inches each day.

With laxitives I can have a bowel movement, but they are soft and smaller than normal.

Today the little stinging pains are up just under the bottom edge of left ribcage and around to me side.

I thought I might have colon cancer as I thought that IBS always resulted in diarea and never constipation, but now I'm rethinking things. Does this sound like IBS at all?

I did use to have diarea quite often after I ate certain foods, but I haven't had it in about 2 years now.

12-07-2002, 04:11 AM
Hi TimmyT,

No IBS can definately be either constipation or diahorrea, and often both in differing frequencies.

It certainly sounds like what I've got!

Weird thing for me is, for the last 2 weeks things have been completely normal (bowel movement wise), although I still have the nagging pains, often in my left lower abdomen, left back area, etc - but as you can read here by other 'more experienced' sufferers - all comes as part of the IBS deal!

07-25-2005, 12:37 PM
hi ben, yeah i totally know what you mean, i've been having similar **** happen to me over the last 4 months or so. Abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, havent noticed any blood but seriously who fishes out there dung and examines it? The most disturbing sympton i'm getting is loud growling and movement coming from my guts, i mean i can see and feel it move sometimes. The thing is i'm a worrier and now i've convinced myself i've got cancer and i'm going to die shortly. Oh yeah and i've got lower back pain on the left hand side, can neone relate to these symptons? cos i'm too scared to go to the doctors. Any help is much appreciated, thanks.

03-14-2006, 04:02 PM
Hi Worrier,

I have those pinching like pains in my tummy too, sometimes right smack in the middle. I'm not sure if they're like yours but they sometimes feel like someone is sticking a very very fine needle in my stomach very quickly.They last seconds. Also I get them when I am sitting at my desk and I think it's because of my posture while I'm sitting. I have to learn to sit up straighter.