Having Bowel Troubles?

I have been struggling with GI issues for years now and no one has been able to diagnose it. I’ve gone to my doctor numerous times and just been told I had gas. And although it was true I was having gas and bloating and stomach pain I wanted to know why. After 10 years of dealing with the symptoms with no diagnosis I finally decided to take matters into my own hands. I’ve tried cutting out random foods, I’ve been tested for celiac disease, I’ve had ultrasounds, I’ve been referred to a GI specialist (my appointment is in the Fall a short 6 months from now!!!) and I still haven’t figured out what’s causing the GI symptoms. All my doctor ever tells me is that I’m healthy and it’s likely just IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).

Anyone who can say it’s just IBS has never had IBS symptoms before; which include gas, cramping, abdominal pain, abnormal bowl movements including sudden onset diarrhea and constipation.

Commonly IBS has been diagnosed based on elimination, basically if doctors couldn’t find anything  wrong with your gastrointestinal tract they diagnosed you with IBS. It is now typically defined as symptoms of gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort, that persists for more than 3 months (doesn’t need to be consecutively) without any specific disease diagnoses and abdominal pain is usually relieved by having a bowel movement.

The Rome III Diagnostic Criteria define IBS as

Recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort at least 3 days/month in the last
3 months associated with two or more of the following:

  • Improvement with defecation
  • Onset associated with a change in frequency of stool
  • Onset associated with a change in form (appearance) of stool

IBS, although uncomfortable if not managed properly, does not increase one’s risk of developing colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease and does not specifically damage the intestinal tract.  Symptoms can start at any time but can be triggered by an infection in the intestinal tract, a significant life event or extreme stress.

If you are experiencing IBS symptoms you should speak with your doctor and have your IBS properly diagnosed before trying to treat symptoms on your own. You should also have a colonoscopy to check for any intestinal inflammation or diagnosis of celiac or inflammatory bowel disease. Celiac disease and lactose intolerance are commonly associated with IBS.

IBS is frequently treated by diet, stress relief and sometimes medications (like antidiarreal agents). One of the most widely used and well researched diets to relieve symptoms of IBS came from the Monash University in Australia, the low FODMAP diet. I will be posting my experiences on this diet which I started on Monday. I encourage you to trial this diet if you have been diagnosed with IBS since 75% of people find symptom relief with the diet.  I am a Registered Dietitian therefore I can ensure my diet is balanced all by myself, I encourage you to seek help and advice from a registered dietitian experienced in the low FODMAP diet to help you with proper meal planning as the diet involves eliminating a large amount of foods.

Stay tuned for more posts about what the low FODMAP diet is and my experience on it including some of my trialed recipes including a vegetarian quiche, sheppards pie and even desserts 🙂