Please don't take this as a "poor me" or a word vomit of my issues - I just more so want to share an update of my IBS Journey and where I've come in the last year in hopes that it gives someone else a clue of how they can help themselves too.
My IBS-C Journey Up to Date
I've more or less struggled with digestion my entire life but I think when I was younger I just didn't think about it much. It wasn't until the last 8 or so years that I really noticed it more and more and finally last year I got the courage to seek out some professional guidance in a GI doc! She is amazing by the way. Please find someone that listens to you - your symptoms, your struggles and gives you down to earth advice and guidance and that isn't afraid to try new things and is up to date on current studies and information. There is so much out there and becoming more and more "popular" or maybe just more sought out in the wellness scene.
My first initial consults with her I shared all about my bowel habits and what I have noticed that had been bothers me. She asked what kinds of food I eat, if anything made it better or made it worse. Whether or not I had to use a laxative or stool softener ever, what supplements I use or what I have used in the past - In order to rule out everything I went through the following:
Colonoscopy and EGD - After doing a three day prep to get completely cleaned out- I underwent anesthesia and they took a look in my colon. They also went down my throat and into my stomach and small intestine and took a biopsy in order to test for celiac disease. The only findings were that I have a very twisted colon so stool may just have a hard time passing through there. Also - my celiac test came back negative.
After these tests I was put on miralax once daily - and also added in some fiber supplementation with a follow up appointment in a couple months.
Miralax does NOT work for me - Or any other medication that pull water from the colon as a mode of action. It actually made me more bloated and constipated. Amitiza is the next medication we tried - which is a prescription medication for IBS with constipation but does also pull fluid and unfortunately after trying this med for a few months I didn't have any improvement so we discontinued it. I have since been on Linzess - which has a different mode of action. It is supposed to help stimulate the bowels and well as numb the pain receptors there so you feel like cramping and pain. I had since increased the dose to the max dose and I THINK it does help a bit.
Probiotics: I have tried various brands, dosages and am currently still taking on although I can't remember the name or dosage at this time!
Digestive Enzymes - Since this past week I have been taking them with each meal - this was a recommendation from my acupuncturist (I'll chat more about that below) - Sometimes people don't have all of the enzymes required to break down the food and MAYBE that is part of my issue! So I'm going to try this for a while and see if this will help.
1st Phorm Greens - I have been having 2 scoops each morning to try to get more veggies in and it also has digestive enzymes, probiotics and other nutrition to help and heal the gut.
Fiber supplement - I have since gotten rid of since I feel it only made me more bloated and backed up
I have tried eating low fodmap foods - and still avoid some of those biggest triggers like onions and garlic - but overall I didn't notice that this change in eating made me less bloated/constipated. There are some foods that I do stay away from that I have found made my stomach worse. Broccoli is one of them and any stir fry veggies. Which is sad, because I love them...but they don't like me! Also having too much of bread, chopped salad, raw veggies also do make it worse. I have eliminated dairy for the most part since college because that is something else that gives me reflux and a gut ache. If I do what to have ice cream I am able to take lactaid and do well with that. I have been tracking my food using my fitness pal and have been noting any symptoms that I can link with certain foods - journaling is a great place to start!
SIBO testing - I have also had a SIBO test done this September which came back negative. SIBO stands for Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth - bacteria is supposed to live in your colon, but if you struggle with constipation and get backed up it may start growing in your small intestine. While there is emits a lot of gases which contribute to bloating, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea and other lovely symptoms - Again this test came back negative.
Chiropractor - This past summer I did go to the chiropractor regularly - I didn't notice any changes with my gut but did notice a big difference in my neck pain and the frequent headaches I was having.
Acupuncture - This is something WAY new to me, but I loved my first session! My acupuncturist sat down with me and we went through EVERYTHING in my history. I found it fascinating to hear more about Chinese medicine and she even looked at my tongue to do an assessment of my nutrition - In order to do a treatment for my digestion she put needles in my feet, wrists/hands and my stomach And then the four needles in my stomach were attached to a TENS unit which sends electrical impulses to my colon. It felt really really weird, but after a few minutes I got pretty used to it. Putting the needles in feels like a pinch and then it is done - so really not that bad. Definitely tolerable. The needles stayed in for 20 minutes and I was at her office a total of an hour and a half - I started doing the digestive enzymes and will go back in a couple weeks for another treatment.
Food Sensitivity Testing is something I have been wanting to do for a while, but was unsure. After the acupuncturist mentioned she thinks I might have an odd food allergy or intolerance which is causing my gut to always be inflammed. I made an appointment at a local allergy center that does this testing. In my consult I again went through my entire history and what I have all tried to improve my digestion thus far. We ended up doing a food intolerance panel of 95 foods and also tested for 12 common food allergies - This lab has to be sent off and I will receive it back in about 3 weeks! Then I will go back in to go over the test with the physician and will start eliminating the high intolerance foods to see if this helps me. Although food sensitivity tests have mixed reviews I really feel like this will at least give me a good starting point for food elimination trials They also took some blood to test my thyroid - I've never had this done before. If my thyroid is low it could easily be corrected by medication and be the cause of my system slowing down.
So yes! This is where I'm at lately - I have had a few people asking me for advice and updates -
I would love if you shared your experiences with any of the things I talked about!
Comment below to share your thoughts and or questions!
Cookie and Treats Baker. R.N. Nutrition Nerd. Runner. <3 Coffee. Fitness. Foodie. In pursuit of finding my own kind of balance...
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