View Full Version : Do I really have IBS or misdiagnosed?

07-16-2002, 03:45 PM
Hello everyone,

I am a 25 yr old female and about 4 months ago I started having stomach problems. Originally it started out as a very minor lower back ache on my right side—probably about 2 inches to the right of my spine, nothing that seemed major or overly concerned me at that time. But over the period of a few weeks I noticed that the back ache was chronic and was starting to become accompanied by a dull constant stomach pain in the same area as the back ache, only on the front of my body in the stomach area (on the right side, about an 1 or 2 below my waistline). It was as if you could take a rod through my right side and hit both the stomach and back pains.

At the beginning of May I started creating a log of my symptoms and noticed I always got what I call “attacks” after eating. At first I noticed these attacks usually followed greasy meals of deep-fried, fatty foods. By the end of May the attacks were coming twice a week and were coming after any type of meal—-pasta, lettuce salads, white rice, stir-fry vegetables, etc., not necessarily greasy/fatty meals. And the attacks were becoming very painful-—they are not acute, sharp, or cramping type of pain, but a constant, dull, aching pain. Some attacks were so bad I would feel nauseous and antacids didn’t seem to help. The attacks started anywhere from ½ hour to an hour after eating and usually lasted quite a while, sometimes as long as 4 hours or throughout the entire day (depending on how many meals I would eat).

At the end of May I visited the doctor and from my symptoms she believed I had gallstones. She conducted various blood tests (I am unsure of what exactly the tests checked for, but I do know that one of them was to rule out liver problems), and she also arranged for me to have an ultrasound. The ultrasound came back fine, no stones or any type of enlargement of organs, etc. When I told her that I was still having the attacks and at that point they were coming almost every other day, she seemed baffled and referred me to a GI doctor.

I saw the GI doctor and after speaking with him about my symptoms he conducted a blood test for Inflamed Bowel Disease (which came back negative) and also arranged for me to have a colonoscopy, which was conducted last week. Originally he felt I either had Crohn’s Disease or polyps in my colon. After the colonoscopy, he came into my hospital room and said, “everything looks good, and I think it’s probably irritable bowel”. At that time the doctor also prescribed Robinul for me to take for a month’s time until I return to see him for a follow up appointment.

I am not happy with the diagnosis of IBS because originally when I first saw the doctor he told me he did not believe it was IBS due to my pain always being centralized (and not in various places in my gut area) and because I am not having any unusual bowel movements (no diarrhea or constipation, no straining or unusual feelings). And even though I have not had any attacks so far while taking the Robinul (but I've only been on it 3 days, so that may be premature thinking), I only view taking this medication as a temporary solution to my problem, not a cure, and definitely a far cry from a diagnosis. I am also upset that the doctor did not take any biopsies during the colonoscopy even though the nurse who prepped me told me that he would take biopsies--even if everything looked okay--to rule out anything microscopic. Due to still being somewhat groggy when the doctor and nurse came to see me after the colonoscopy, I didn’t think of addressing these issues or asking any of these questions that I have about the biopsies, Robinul, or diagnosis at that time. They also told me to put more fiber in my diet and to start taking Metamucil/Citrucel. For the past year I have been trying to put as much fiber as possible into my diet naturally (salads, roughage, fruits, veggies, Kashi cereal, whole grain breads, etc.), so I’m not too impressed with being told lack of fiber may be contributing to my problems as well. At this point I am debating on whether or not I should go to another doctor for a second opinion.

I am hoping that someone out there will be able to give me some insight as to what my stomach problem may be or suggestions on what the next step I take should be (more testing? see new doctor?, etc). I feel I have described my symptoms pretty well, and will add that I take a multivitamin/mineral supplement every day, as well as a calcium supplement. I have been taking these supplements for years now. The only other symptom I do have, which I noticed started the same time as the stomach pains, is bad gas—very frequent and usually painful and loud. Gas is not something I have ever had a problem with in the past, but the Robinul seems to be helping to relieve it. I do not have any other types of symptoms, such as dry skin, eczema, etc., nor do I have any type of allergies or food intolerances. Although I do have what is classified as “dry skin”, but it is something I have had my entire life. Eczema does run in my family, along with a sister having a thyroid problem (do not know if it’s hypo- or hyper-). I have not had any changes in weight loss/gain or in my appetite, nor does the pain subside after a bowel movement, or after further eating/drink, or anything of that nature. The only thing I noticed is that the pain does seem to subside if I lay down on my side. I am not on any type of prescription meds, other than B/C pills, (and now the Robinul), and in the past I have had a tendency to get bladder infections. When I first went to the doctor at the end of May, she gave me Zantac to take, but it didn’t help any, so I no longer take that.

As I stated, I am uncomfortable with believing my problem is IBS, especially after researching the Internet and finding that IBS is something doctors frequently diagnose when they can’t pinpoint what is exactly wrong with a person. (Although I am very happy to have found out that there is nothing major wrong with me, such as Crohn’s Disease, polyps, cancer, etc.)

Any type of help or suggestions on my predicament would be greatly appreciated!


07-16-2002, 11:02 PM
Gee---your story is so complete---I would feel bad not responding. It does not sound like the symptomes of IBS.

Alot of times people may think they are getting enough fiber whereas in fact they are not or may not get the right kind. All fiber is not alike!!! You need 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily for your GI system to function properly. Are you get enough every day???And the right kind???

A water soluble fiber supplement like your Doc suggested would do several things ---clean your intestines out, reduce the pressure in your intestine because it absorbs fluid and expands and regulates your BMs better. I think you should take it but I think everybody should.

The bacteria in your system may be out of balance causing trapped gas. The im-balance can be caused for many reasons ----like a yeast/candida infection. An upset stomach only once can distrupt your friendly bacteria, taking a round of antibiotics, drink alcohol, eating spicey food, taking the PILL and the list goes on.
It may be you need to start eating yogurt and taking a good probiotic pill/capsule. It certain won't hurt you---it worth a try to re-establish "friendly bacteria" in your intestines.

The problem that happens after a meal is usually caused by some food intolerance or a trigger food. You probably have one or more trigger foods. Keeping tract of what you eat will help. Does the attacks happen after every meal or only certain meals. My wife found that her attacks were triggered by just a little coffee. Trigger foods can act anytime. Lettuce(iceberg) will double me over with cramps about 24 hours after I eat it even in a sandwich. So, will cantalope. You have to question everything you put in your mouth-- what you eat as well as drink. By the way, I have found that Doctors are very little help with this!!!

I certainly wish you well---Harry

I did want to welcome you to the board!!!

07-17-2002, 04:18 AM
Have to say that your symptoms don't sound like IBS to me either.

It is always possible that you have some sort of chronic inflammation of your gallbladder without actually having gall stones. This is possible, so I would definitely go and see another doc for a second opinion.

As Harry said, although you say that you don't have any food allergies/intolerances, it is always worth getting tested for these. These can develop in later life and can hit you at any stage. These days especially, food is tampered with in so many ways, that lots of people find that they can become allergic/intolerant to additives and other types of food in general.

Hope this helps and good luck?


Katie G
07-17-2002, 07:34 AM
Hi, and welcome to the boards! I have received responses from Harry and Super Sarah several times and they have helped me a lot. So please take their suggestions seriously. As an IBS sufferer, I have to agree with Harry and Sarah. Your symptoms DO NOT sound like IBS. There's more to IBS than localized pain/discomfort and gas. Just because your blood tests, etc., may have been normal, doesn't mean that your digestive organs are normal.

Your symptoms do sound suspiciously like gall bladder problems. I was having upper right abdominal pain after eating which worsened over time to bothering me any time I ate anything that wasn't bland or tasteless. I went through 2 gall bladder ultrasounds, and 2 Hidascans, which were all "normal", before the doc sent me for a 2nd opinion (he believed it was my gall bladder the whole time, but needed the 2nd opinion to ensure my insurance would pay for surgery). The 2nd doc agreed that it was my gall bladder. The symptoms I had were right side pain/discomfort (which would radiate to the back), low-grade fever, tenderness/guarding during palpation of the GB area, and significant weight loss (I became too scared to eat, because I knew I'd be in pain about 30 minutes after a meal). I did not have stones or a non-functioning gall bladder (which would have shown up on my tests), but after surgery, the surgeon told my husband & me that my GB was inflamed and covered in scar tissue, and that eventually it would have malfunctioned completely.

Go back to your doctor or find another one. Yes, thank God you didn't have Crohn's, IBD, or cancer, but that doesn't mean you have to suffer now. Localized pain such as yours has a reason, and I hope that you can find the answers you need. We on the board are here for you.

Good luck,
Katie G

07-17-2002, 04:50 PM
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions! I really appreciate the feedback and find comfort in the fact that I am not alone when it comes to my thoughts and ideas on the situation I am finding myself in.

I am going to keep taking he Metamucil. I do realize that even though I am getting a good amount of fiber naturally, I’m still not up in the 20-35g range, so adding a fiber supplement of some sort to my diet has been something I’ve wanted to do for some time now. It’s just that I wasn’t pleased with my doctor telling me to add it to my diet because I felt like he was using it as a cure-all, or a flimsy way of trying to solve my dilemma.

The idea of food intolerances is interesting. Would finding out whether a person has food intolerances be something that you would do on your own using a written food diary, or should one seek the advise of a doctor as well, perhaps for certain testing to be done?

Harry—what exactly is a probiotic pill or capsule? I am not a fan of yogurt at all even though I have heard of the wonderful benefits that it contains, so I’m thinking I should perhaps try the pill form. As you stated, what could it hurt?

Does anyone know how to check for or diagnose chronic inflammation of the gallbladder? The comments that Super Sarah and Katie G stated about the gallbladder really stuck with me. I have tenderness in the same area where the pain comes, as Katie G had mentioned in her post.

Either way, I have checked with my insurance about getting second opinions, which they cover, so I am definitely going that route. Now the only problem is deciding which doctor I see next!?! I just hope they don't turn out to be like the one I am currently seeing.

Thanks again to everyone for their advice!


07-17-2002, 10:58 PM
Hi PureJ,

A probiotic is a live bacteria culture that when taken in your diet is benificial to your health. There are many that have been identified ---I heard there are over 400 different ones. They are the friendly bacteria that are in the same family as the ones already living in your GI tract. The most common probiotic bacteia are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria.

Probiotic pills or capsules contain some of the more common types like L. Acidophilus, L. Casei, L. Reuteri.
PB-8 a probiotic capsule contains 8 different strains. There are many on the market. I like and use PB-8 and "Probiotica".

You can do a search on *********** on on any culture and you'll find more to read than you want to but interesting.

It takes 2 bacteria to make yogurt----L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus. Some brands add only one more active culture and others brands more. My favorite is Stonyfield Farms---it adds 4 more. Many studies have shown that probiotic cultures benefit you in many ways ---help digestion, nutrient absorption even do in some disease producing bacteria.

Probiotic caps or pills are available at health food stores.

Take Care---Harry

Katie G
07-18-2002, 06:59 AM
Hi, again purejoi. In response to your question about tests for GB inflamation, sometimes an enlarged GB will show up on ultrasound, but mine didn't on either one. You can try going back to your same doc, and request more tests, and then go for a 2nd opinion. My doc knew it was my GB all the time, based on my symptoms, but when he couldn't prove it through medical procedures, that's when I was sent for the 2nd opinion. The 2nd doc discovered I had a low grade fever, and when she began putting pressure on the GB region, I about jumped off the exam table in agony. She also said that I was demonstrating rebound tenderness/guarding which is another indicator of some type of inflamation/infection in the area. So when she said it was my GB as well, I was scheduled for surgery within 3 days. My mother also suffered from the same thing for years before exploratory surgery revealed an inflamed GB and it was removed.

Another thing to consider is what's called "referred" pain, meaning the part of your body that hurts is not necessarily the part that's infected. So if your pain is not necessarily in the upper right quadrant, but more in the lower right or centralized, it could still be your GB. You should have your doc put you through a battery of tests first, and if you don't get the answers you need, find someone else.

Good luck to you and keep us posted,
Katie G