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Bellatrix's avatar

Do you have experience with Irritable/Inflamed Bowel Syndrome and what relieves your symptoms (diarreah)?

Asked by Bellatrix (21128 points ) March 9th, 2012

I am not asking this question for myself. My husband has irritable/inflamed bowel syndrome and it has become worse in the last six months. He has modified his diet but is still experiencing abdominal pain and diarrhoea.

If you (or someone you know) suffers from IBS, is there anything you have you done that has significantly reduced your symptoms?

He is going to go back to see his specialist but in the meantime, while waiting for his appointment, if you have any suggestions he can try that have worked for you they would be appreciated.

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41 Answers

whitecarnations's avatar

Well I’ve come to the point where immediately after my first meal of the day, that time comes. Bananas and things with fiber greatly help. What’s more than that though, is avoiding soda, fried foods or anything greasy to be exact. Poo that floats is indicator of too much fat in diet. Seriously bananas have helped me. Bananas and a lot of tea, veggies and fruits with tons of anti-oxidants as well. Anti Oxidants literally restore damaged cells and something must be damaged with his insides.

SmashTheState's avatar

I get irregular bouts of irritable bowel as well as some painful hemmorhoids. When either one flares up, I find going on a liquid diet for a week or so usually works to give the tissue a rest and relieve the inflammation.

Bellatrix's avatar

Thank you guys. I have heard bananas are something of a miracle and high in potassium too. I have suggested writing down everything he eats and we eat lots of veggies but cooked so they aren’t crispy (not his favourite way to eat them).

rooeytoo's avatar

I’ve had it all my life, it comes and goes with stress more than diet.

There is a med called Buscopan, you can purchase from the chemist without a script. It is made from an indigenous plant and apparently is based on an old aboriginal cure. It is like a miracle. Stops the pain of cramps and soothes and quiets the spasms. Usually if I take the prescribed dosage for even 1 day, the symptoms go away. It is like a miracle for me. Hope it works for your husband too. (I don’t like taking across the counter drugs but since it is natural, I gave it a try and I am so glad. Now I always carry it with me in case of emergency!)

JLeslie's avatar

I know you said he has tried adjusting his diet, but I will throw out the idea of eliminating dairy for one week, and then add it back and see if that is the culprit. If so, Lactaid pills will help enourmously.

I had a couple doctors diagnose me with IBS, which I was resistant to accept. I is one of those diagnoses that I believe doctors just don’t know what is causing your problem so they call it IBS. I just am very very resistant to believing something drastically changed in my body for no reason. I want to know the reason, the underlying cause. I narrowed it down to dairy products. Within 20 minutes of milk or cheese I was in the bathroom. It lasted for years, about 8 years. Then, I had to go on mega long term antibiotics for somethng unrelated, and around that time I was cured of my IBS troubles. I don’t think it was a coincidence. I just got lucky probably that the drug killed off whatever was really the problem. Doctors and patients will tell you that sounds insane because they think antibiotic use can trigger IBS, which I think it probably can, but it would be a different bacteria causing the problem. If it is a bacteria causng the problem. Still, my experience with the antibiotics won’t help you, because it would be guesswork.

It isn’t a totally foreign idea researchers have studied antibiotics and antiparasitics for illnesses like Crohn’s disease, but no doctor will be able to help you really with a bacterial cause, unless you have c. dificile, which I am sure they have probably ruled out. But, I do suggest if he needs antibiotics for something else ever, sinus infection, or skin infection, to pay attention to if it helps his IBS symptoms temporarily. It’s tricky because antibiotics cause diarrhea also.

I assume he has tried taking probiotics? And, @rooeytoo medication sounds worth trying.

Rock2's avatar

Probiotics.

Mariah's avatar

For me, stress has always done a number on my digestive tract, moreso than any food. Keeping stress down and Imodium are my two best suggestions.

Rarebear's avatar

Lactose free diet. Probiotics have been shown to have some efficacy also. Not great, but better than placebo.

RocketGuy's avatar

Probiotic pills like Colon Health (Costco) and Digestive Advantage (Safeway) work for me. They contain lactobacillus, etc. Helps a lot when I eat foods containing lactose.

Bellatrix's avatar

Thank you everyone. He has been taking probiotics but he bought some specifically for people with IBS this weekend and will try those. I will also suggest the lactose free diet. I have asked him to keep a food journal and to cut back to a very basic diet so he can try to ascertain what triggers attacks. Hopefully your suggestions will help. Thanks again.

JLeslie's avatar

@Bellatrix I honestly believe the lactose problem can be determined in a week. Some people talk about months on end of food changes, or say thing like “dairy free diet,” or “gluten free diet,” which makes t sound like the person is confined for the rest of their lives. Maybe if he knows that at least with dairy he can narrow that down fast he won’t be dreading it too much. At least in my opinion and experience people can figure out dairy in a week. It’s not so much feeling better during the week, but the feeling like crap (pun intended) when milk or cheese is reintroduced and the run to the bathroom. At least you can rule it out quickly, and treat that reasonably when he does eat dairy. If that is the problem.

Now, this is separate from an overall feeling better dairy free, I am only talking about the IBS symtoms. I do feel a dairy free diet is better in general. When I figured out dairy was my problem I was dairy free almost completely for a couple years, and I felt better in many different ways, but that is a separate health question in my opinion. I keep saying I am going to go back to dairy free, but haven’t done it.

Bellatrix's avatar

He has already pretty much taken lactose out of his diet. He might occasionally fall off the wagon but he has pretty much cut it out. I forgot he has been using special milk etc.

We aren’t really sure what triggered the attack he seems to he in the throws of. He normally doesn’t whinge at all about it so it must be bad. Thanks again.

JLeslie's avatar

@Bellatrix And no cheese?

Bellatrix's avatar

We don’t eat a lot of cheese. I think he has had some but not very much and he is going to make sure he has none for at least the short term until things settle down again.

He had a endoscopy and a colonoscopy a few months ago and the specialist said he has “Crohn’s” like symptoms but as I said this is the worst episode he has had.

JLeslie's avatar

I hope it gets better for him. The food diary is a great idea, I hope he follows your advice on that.

My first colonoscopy my doctor said my rectum looked like a 60 year old women, I was 32 at the time, and my colon had several infammed areas. Since the antibiotics that has all healed.

rooeytoo's avatar

Did he try the Buscopan?

Bellatrix's avatar

He got some today. Fingers crossed it settles down soon.

rooeytoo's avatar

It works like a miracle for me, fingers crossed here too. I sympathize with him for sure.

Rock2's avatar

I have also found that Paxil works great.

Mariah's avatar

@Bellatrix, if I remember correctly doesn’t your husband have Crohn’s? If so, it’s quite a different situation than just irritable bowel syndrome and he may require medication to get into remission. Sorry this is happening. Feel free to PM me any time.

Bellatrix's avatar

Well… when he went for the endoscopy/colonscopy the specialist said there was evidence of Crohn’s ‘like’ ulceration but didn’t say “you have Crohn’s” and no further tests were carried out so he still doesn’t have a definitive answer on whether he has Crohn’s or not. We were just talking about this actually in that he hasn’t had any advice on what he should do apart from the specialist saying ‘eat a high fibre diet, see you in five years’. Frustrating.
So, I don’t know if that is what it is or something else @Mariah.

I have told him to go back to our doctor and to insist that he wants a proper diagnosis AND some counselling on what he should be doing to manage whatever it is that is going on. This is the worst episode he has had but as he says, he isn’t sure if he picked up a bug that was exacerbated because of his existing gut problems, or if it was a Crohn’s or something else problem or flare up. Anyway, he is pretty cranky at the doctor at the moment so I have told him to calm down and talk to her quietly and if he still isn’t happy to seek a second opinion.

For now, he has modified his diet since he had that procedure last year. With this flare-up, he did try a liquid diet for a few days, took some Buscopan and he has started taking a new type of probiotic (the ones you keep in the fridge that are supposed to help with IBS?). He is feeling much better and less tender and other symptoms have settled. So, we will see how he goes from now on.

Thanks @Mariah. I think he is getting very frustrated because he feels like he has no clear idea what is going on or what he can really do to improve things. If nothing else it might be what he needs to encourage him to be a bit more proactive about finding out.

JLeslie's avatar

A friend of mine was diagnosed with pan ulceritive colitis. I think that is the proper name. Seems people with that diagnosis wind up with colon cancer for sure eventually. It affected the medical insurance she could get, because as you know here in the states if you have a pre existing it makes things harder, let alone that it is a diagnosis destined to eventually end in cancer. She had colonscopies yearly for several years, because of the high risk of cancer. Then she changed her diet, and is basically completely better. Supposedly there is no real cure for it. So either she cured it or it was the wrong diagnosis.

I tell this story only because a proper diagnosis might or might not help. I guess maybe there are different drug protocols for different diagnoses, if he is interested in a magic pill? My friend with chrons winds up taking steroids and mega antibiotics a times I know, which seems to help somewhat.

Rarebear's avatar

Ulcerative colitis doesn’t lead to cancer for sure, but there is a higher risk after 10 years of active disease.

Bellatrix's avatar

Thank you for that clarification @Rarebear.

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear Thanks. I think maybe my girlfriend said it with some sarcasm possibly. Kind of like “great diagnosis, I’m destined to have cancer,” ya know?

rooeytoo's avatar

Now here is a solution that worked for me. It probably wouldn’t for a lot of people but I don’t like going to doctors, and don’t even mention hospital.

A shrink told me to stop being angry and upset because I have a gut that goes off track at the drop of a hat, or a lick of ice cream. A lot of folks in wheel chairs and iron lungs would love to have a touchy gut instead what they do have. So I make a sincere effort to simply accept that this is the way my body reacts to stress or sometimes certain foods.

Since I have done this, my gut has become a lot less touchy. Episodes of diarrhea, cramping, etc. have diminished. And when they do happen, I say ho hum, here we go again and know that they will pass, probably not as quickly as I would like but if I don’t add to the problem by getting upset and angry, they don’t usually go on too long.

I realize this is not the answer if there is a serious medical situation, but for me, I have had a touchy stomach since I was a baby so I figure if it were something serious, I would be dead by now.

Rarebear's avatar

@rooeytoo “so I figure if it were something serious, I would be dead by now.”

Boy, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten people who come to my clinic saying something to the effect of, “I’ve had abdominal pain and cramping for 30 years and nobody has been able to help me. I need you to figure out what it is”

I wish more people had your attitude.

Bellatrix's avatar

Thanks @rooeytoo. I have talked to him about whether stress could have triggered it this time but he is honestly one of the calmest people I know and he says he isn’t feeling stressed about anything. I think this is something else he needs to monitor though. Thank you for your input.

And @Rarebear, one thing I do know is he is a proactive person. He is feeling a bit lost at the moment though because he hasn’t had any clear diagnosis from the medical professionals he has seen. He called his doctor three days ago to clarify if this was likely to be a Crohn’s episode or something else and should he go in to see her, she didn’t call him back. He has also spent the last few months reading books on the topic to try to find answer but all that feels a bit useless if nobody has said “you have…” or “we don’t know if its… but it could be xxx”. Apparently there are blood tests he can have, they haven’t been done. It is frustrating.

I suspect there has been some denial on his part because the doctor didn’t say “you have xxx”. It allowed him to say well it could be but it might not be. Nonetheless he has been researching and reading and doing things to try to manage the problem he has. This flare up has brought it to a head though.

Anyway… thank you all. The tips you have provided have helped.

JLeslie's avatar

@rooeytoo Haha, I say the same thing. Funny, I think doctors see me as a hypochondriac at times, and I actually never think I am dying, especially from the chronic crap I suffer from, because like you said, I would be dead by now. I avoid doctors, suffer for months and years after doctors can’t do anything, and then eventually try again to get help. I find it offensive and dismissive some doctors see me as worrying, when I live with shit every day, and don’t complain. But, show up with some information and test results in hand, and a suggestion of something to try, and the doctor often is not too happy. And, the kiss of death I have decided is to tell a doctor what you were previously diagnosed with, because I think some of them just go along with the previous diagnosis.

@Rarebear The patient still wants to get cured, feel better, even if they are not worried about dying. There are tons of stories of someone finally finding a doctor who could help them after 30 other doctors didn’t. You might be the guy. The pt hopes you are the guy.

Rarebear's avatar

@JLeslie I understand. And I try. But I’m also realistic to them. Even today I said, “I can’t wave a magic wand and make your pain go away.”

That said, though, once I had a guy who was about 70 who had had 35 years of crampy abdominal pain. I said, “Stop drinking milk.” He did, and when he came back a month later he gave me a big hug and said that he’d gone through thousands of dollars worth of tests and drugs, but nobody had ever told him to stop drinking milk. He did, and his symptoms completely disappeared. It’s my great IBS success story.

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear :). See you are a miracle worker.

I am fine with realistic. I want my doctor to be honest, and to say they don’t know rather than be dismissive, they are not the same thing. One of my complaints with many doctors, not all, is they are in the doctor box. They obviously care about scientific method and standard of care for good reason, but they don’t question enough.

I was talking to a med student, maybe he is an intern, not sure, who is specializing in ID, and he was telling me about chronic Lymes disease and how doctors are ripping off pts because the bacteria is gone, but the body’s immune response persists. These supposed horrible doctors keep the patient coming for antibiotic mega treatments. My question to him was, do the patients improve? He paused, and then started to tell me what a placebo affect is. Even though we had been talking for ten minutes, him actually quizzing me on things, and shocked I knew the answer, he still felt I would not know what a placebo affect is. Just to digress for a minute, that makes me think he was clueless about medicine before he started studying medicine. Anyway, I said to him, what if they improve because there is a second bacteria not found? Not diagnosed? Not discovered yet? I am not saying science on this is wrong about chronic Lymes, I don’t know, but I also think, if a patient improves greatly, pay attention to it. Question the commonly accepted explanation. I am not saying specific to the Lyme example, but in general. He is thinking the text is always right, but anyone who has been in medicine for many years knows that a pretty good percentage of what they learn now, science will disprove it or find a better explanation.

Lyme disease
Stomach Ulcers
Rheumatic Heart

There are tons and tons of diseases previously dismissed as the body turning on itself, and then we finally discover the underlying cause. Those rheumatic illnesses bother me most, because it is so easy to say, aw, your body just went haywire for no reason.

Rarebear's avatar

@JLeslie I agree. There is much we don’t know about autoimmune diseases and the therapies suck.

Mariah's avatar

@JLeslie Regarding your earlier post, ulcerative colitis is what I have; it can affect some or all of the colon and is called pancolitis when it affects the whole thing. The figure I have heard is that your risk of colon cancer increases 10% per 10 years you have the disease. I’ve had the disease since I was 14 so in that sense I was essentially destined for colon cancer. I was even told mine looked precancerous when I got scoped before they took it out, and I’m only 19. There is no cure – besides total colectomy – but I have heard about some diets that can help. I wonder if your friend is on the specific carbohydrate diet, do you know? Anyway, I hope that keeps working for her.

@Bellatrix How very frustrating. I do think he should try to get a more definitive diagnosis. Unfortunately Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis often cannot be managed with diet or probiotics alone. He may need a course of prednisone to get into remission. Is he bleeding at all? I’ll be keeping him in my thoughts. I hope he starts feeling better soon.

JLeslie's avatar

@Mariah I’ll send my girlfriend a note, and see what helped her.

Bellatrix's avatar

He has been in the past. He isn’t now and it does seem to have settled down (he is a happier man). Not so happy with our doctor who still hasn’t called back and apparently doesn’t have a spare appointment either, but that is a whole different story.

Thank you @Mariah. We will be very careful about what he eats anyway and I might check out classes in meditation (wouldn’t do me any harm either). I might do some research for him too and find him some other things to read. I am a great believer in being informed. I think it at least makes you feel like you have some power and control (however much of an illusion that might be). I think when you are sick one of the worst things is that feeling of powerlessness. Of things being ‘done’ to you and you don’t really know why or understand why they are being done.

Mariah's avatar

Sounds like you’re doing all the right things, @Bellatrix.

Mariah's avatar

Oh and I forgot to say – @JLeslie if you’ve already sent her a note, thanks for taking the trouble. If not, don’t bother. I’m past the point of being helped by a diet! I was just curious.

JLeslie's avatar

@Mariah I did already send the note. Who knows maybe it will help the OP’s husband.

JLeslie's avatar

Here is the answer:

It is a balance of raw food (everyday) and protein with little fat. Think chicken, pork… Not so much bacon. Greasy food and eggs really upset my stomach but it might be more individual specific. I steer clear of fried food as a general rule.

JLeslie's avatar

@Mariah My girlfriend just wrote me back and asked if you took acutane? She believes that may have caused her problem. There is a current lawsuit about it from what I understand.

@Bellatrix I hope you don’t mind me asking @mariah that here on the Q, I think it might help others who read the Q consider possible medication induced intestinal problems.

Mariah's avatar

Interesting, thanks @JLeslie. No, I never took acutane; interestingly enough, though, I know all about that because my mom had a run-in with acutane-induced colitis long before I was born. She was actually diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, but when she quit acutane all her problems went away. Later she was told that ulcerative colitis was a misdiagnosis and she really had psedomembranous colitis (which is an infection, not a chronic disease like UC) induced by the acutane. Needless to say, it came as a big surprise when I turned out to have UC. As of now we think it’s just a coincidence, but it’s all very odd.

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