Jump to content
  • Sign Up

Am I Barking Up The Wrong Tree? (Warning: Long)

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Hello everyone! I've been given the dreaded IBS 'diagnosis' and am trying to figure out if there's something in my diet that is causing the problem.

I guess the best way to go about this is to start with my story, yes?

I've pretty much always been constipated. I didn't even realize that this was abnormal until a few years ago. I grew up eating almost exclusively processed foods until I was old enough to drive--then I ate exclusively fast food. (Healthy, right? :rolleyes: )When my income improved, I ate at better quality places, but still wasn't cooking for myself. I don't remember having any other digestive problems aside from the aforementioned chronic constipation and the pain associated with that. I rarely got sick, although I was prone to skin-based fungal infections (but not yeast infections). I was diagnosed with Raynaud's in 2008. I have tennis elbow in my right arm, but I think that's due to overuse. I have anxiety issues, but nothing I've taken medication for. I've also suffered from a general lack of motivation and energy, but this seems to ebb and flow.

Fast forward to 2009: The first half of the year was exceedingly stressful. It was probably the most difficult period in my life. In the months that followed I made several life changes: dating my (now) fiance, moving, starting birth control pills (which I had been on in high school, but then stopped), and learning how to cook. Needless to say, my diet improved.

Meanwhile, I started having problems with gas, bloating, painful spasms, stomach gurgling, burping. I tried to pin it to different foods I was eating, but could never conclusively tie it to anything. I've also noticed memory problems and brain fog. Sometimes I have to pause in the middle of a sentence and search for what I'm trying to say. I'm only 28, and I feel like I'm developing dementia!

In 2010 I started trying to eat more nutritious foods, shopping at the farmer's market, reducing my sugar intake, not eating a lot of carbs. I switched from the birth control pills to an IUD (although it still has hormones, just less). I finally went to see the doctor about my chronic constipation. He gave me the liquid used to clean out your system before a colonoscopy followed by a month-long course of Miralax. That helped, for a week and a half.

Then I cut out dairy. That helped with the constipation. My stools became looser and easier to pass. However, all the gurgling/gas/pain/bloating was still there.

And then my hair started to come out in clumps. :( I've always had very thick hair, so I'm used to shedding a fair bit of hair. But now I can just run my hands gently over it and pull out bunches. It feels like there's less volume in my ponytail, too.

I thought I might be having thyroid problems. I'm always cold. My nails are brittle and ridged. The memory problems, hair falling out, etc. It seemed to fit. I went back to the doctor and he diagnosed me with IBS and wanted to give me a medication which my insurance "may or may not pay for" which "may or may not help". He also tested my iron and thyroid levels.

My iron levels were fine, and my thyroid hormone was on the high end of the normal range.

The last half of 2010 I cut back on my wheat consumption, only having it a couple times a week. I seemed to have problems after I ate it, but only sometimes. Other times I could eat some of it and I didn't have a problem. I went on a cruise and ate wheat with every meal, and I noticed an increase in undigested food in the stool. But that could be caused by something else entirely.

I started to look at Celiac. I once had a roommate with it, so it was on my radar. The more I researched, the more I wondered. My dad has psoriasis. My younger brother had some serious problems with potty training/digestion when he was a kid, although I don't know the exact cause or resolution. Unfortunately, we're estranged from my dad's extended family, so I'm not sure if there were any other autoimmune or digestive problems aside from one ancestor with diabetes (not sure if it was type 1).

Coming back from the cruise, I've been trying a gluten free diet, but not very well. (I figured I hadn't eaten enough gluten for the past couple months for the blood test to be accurate, so I thought I would try the diet.) I've cheated a couple times (one time I was craving an oreo cupcake so badly I actually cancelled what I had planned for the day to go pick one up) and we've been eating out more than normal. I've eaten french fries that were touching bread. Bad, I know.

I'm not sure if it's helping. I've figured out that in addition to lactose intolerance I have fructose malabsorption, and I've tried to follow the low FODMAP diet at the same time. But I'm still having stomach gurgles, gas, pain, etc (although I haven't had a *major* attack in a couple weeks).

Phew. Thanks for reading to this point! My question is this: Is this something worth pursuing? Should I keep at the gluten-free diet? Should I abandon this and try to look for another cause? Is celiac even a possibility? Should I get the genetic test or do a proper gluten challenge? This is driving me crazy. :(

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

It might be worthwhile for you to follow an elimination diet, after you get your vitamin levels checked out first, at the VERY least your Vitamin D and B Vitamins. In my case, I was tested to have no detectable niacin in my blood, a very low Vitamin D level, and a few other things that are low normal/borderline low, including the tTG IgG and IgA levels. Mega-supplementation is VERY important if you're in a state like that. The brittle nails and always being cold are symptoms of vitamins B and Vitamin D deficiency.

It also seems you may have multiple food sensitivities, and until you figure out what ALL of them are, and avoid all of them (especially gluten), you won't have a complete recession of symptoms. However, the fact that you're starting to see results and improvements already is a good sign that you're on the right track. I've also been given the IBS diagnosis in the past. If your current doctor won't consider anything else... well, you're the one paying for service, and if he doesn't deliver, fire him. There are others. ;)

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the reply! I typed that up at work and I know it was rather... unwieldy. I haven't had any other vitamins tested to my knowledge, but I'll definitely look into that.

I found out yesterday that my mother and brother have similar symptoms (and my brother was just diagnosed with hypothyroidism two weeks ago). On one hand, I feel terrible because who wants their family to be sick? On the other hand, I feel a bit better because I was worried this was all in my head. I used to pride myself on not being allergic or intolerant to any food. :( But now I'm even more fired up to find answers, because this isn't just my problem, but apparently a problem with other family members too.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now