Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Parent Q&A

IBS doctors in Bay Area Apr 3, 2017 (5 responses below)
  • IBS is slowly taking over my life and my excellent western practitioner isn’t really very helpful. Would appreciate recommendations that I might consider. Life’s too short to be crippled by IBS. Thanks

    Hi—my adult son suffered from this for a long painful time. We did a lot of research and he settled on The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (google it and there is a book). It was a challenge but he did this for a full year—no cheating—and his gut healed. Now he can be more flexible in his eating. Good luck!!

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  • IBS doctors in Bay Area

    (5 replies)

    For anyone who suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome or has a child with IBS- have you found a doctor or other health care practitioner  who is knowledgeable about IBS and who has been able to help with symptom management.  Who doesn't just give you the diagnosis and tell you you'll just have to learn to live with it?  My 14 year old son has had IBS off and on for 4 years and his doctors have been less than helpful.  Would love to find someone who takes the diagnosis seriously and is willing and able to help us do some detective work to identify triggers/causes, optimal diet, etc.  

    RE: IBS doctors in Bay Area ()

    Hi there, I belong to Kaiser, so not sure if my experience would be helpful in case you are not a Kaiser patient, but things that they recommended I do helped me. I have IBS and found Kaiser's class on IBS helpful.  Basically, the summary is to try a course of probiotic and also start every day with Metamucil as a part of a healthy breakfast with good amount of fiber in it.  They weren't specific on which probiotic, so I went to Pharmaca and got something they recommended to me at the store, and that didn't do anything.  Eventually, my stomach issues got really bad:  by afternoon, I had so much gas that I looked 7 months pregnant, and then back to my usual fairly skinny self next morning. I got to a GI specialist at Kaiser (after asking for one for a while!), and she said that the Align brand of probiotic is best for IBS.  She also said that some people manage to ferment Metamucil, and suggested that I replace it with Ctirucel.  I followed the doc's suggestions, and 3 months later my stomach is soooo much better.  I still have avoid foods that trigger my stomach issues (one of the things your son may want to do is to have a food journal and determine what triggers his IBS), but other than that my life is a close to normal as it could be for someone with IBS.

    Good luck, things do get better eventually!

    RE: IBS doctors in Bay Area ()

    Chris Kresser is the absolute best.

    RE: IBS doctors in Bay Area ()

    I saw Dr. Liana Vesga (gastroenterologist) a few years ago and she was very helpful (I also have IBS). It looks like she's still practicing in Oakland. Good luck!

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Questions

Irritable Bowel Syndrome in 12 yo boy

Feb 2015

My 12 yo son has been having episodes of painful abdominal cramps that last several days and occur every few months. He doesn't have an official diagnosis yet, but it looks like his doctor is moving towards Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I am seeking advice from folks who have dealt with this problem either in themselves or their child. What has been most helpful in keeping this problem under control? Are there particular health care providers you would recommend? (it seems like Western medicine can't do much for this problem, but perhaps there are alternatives that have worked for you?) Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated! D.


I was diagnosed with IBS at age 18, when my constant stomach pain was so bad I was finally referred to a gastroenterologist. IBS can manifest as tending towards constipation or towards diarrhea. Mine was more the former. It was exacerbated in my case by lactose intolerance and my family's high-dairy, low-fiber eating styles.

In the first year or so I took Donnatal or Bentyl for the stomach pain. These relieve smooth-muscle spasms. They helped a bit and gave me some sense of control over the pain, but I didn't like the (minimal) side effects. Eventually I began taking enteric-coated peppermint oil capsules. These work well but should be avoided if you have reflux issues. Peppermint oil also seems to work as an antispasmodic and gives you nice breath, so it's great if you don't have reflux.

Long term, what worked was changing to a high-fiber diet--bran cereal for breakfast, double-fiber Orowheat bread, etc., and little or no dairy. I switched to soy milk. I learned to avoid calcium carbonate (like in Tums or calcium-plus orange juice, even in some soy milk) which causes instant constipation all over again for me. I learned to drink more water. Over a period of years my severe chronic constipation improved.

I also learned my stomach pain triggers, most of which are typical IBS triggers: soda (instant stomach pain!), drinking a lot of liquid with meals (ditto! I just sip water with food and drink liquids mainly between meals now), getting too hungry/empty, lying down during the day, tight belts, and of course too much dairy. I've probably got some others, but over the years these things just became second nature to me and are not a big deal.

If your son has IBS, he too will probably mostly manage it with lifestyle changes. It does not have to be a big deal. It isn't life-threatening, just uncomfortable until it's controlled. What was very hard for me at first was that I had this inexplicable stomach pain, which caused me great stress, which made my stomach hurt more. Then my eating got irregular because of the pain and I began relying on comfort foods like corn flakes and milk. I was a walking stomachache by the time I was diagnosed. Once you realize that your stomachaches are caused by the muscle spasms of IBS, you can relax a little and figure out what your personal triggers and best practices are. And then over time you feel better.

BTW, I hope you're seeing a pediatric gastroenterologist, not just your son's pediatrician. A GI should be able to give you more lifestyle tips, and help confirm your son's diagnosis. I would NOT assume an IBS diagnosis without a GI confirming it. UCSF has great pediatric GIs. Rule out other things, including GERD (reflux) first.

feeling fine these days


Eliminate all tomato, potato, citrus and wheat products for 10 days to see if there is a difference. That includes tomato sauce, fries, cereals that have wheat in it. He made need probiotics to create a healthy amount of healthy bacteria in the gut as well. I also wonder what his stress level is like. Julia


Oh this sounds too familiar, and I also remember how painful these episodes are! I was diagnosed with IBS in 2000 and the best advice that my doctor gave me was to keep a detailed food diary to find ''trigger foods''. And alas- for me it was pork and conventional (non-organic) lettuce. Since I eliminated these two items from my diet I am 100% better, and I can even eat small amounts of them now and then- although I try not to, because the memory of the consequences is still very vivid... chose food restrictions over pain


Check out www.helpforibs.com. I have IBS and was not helped much by my doctors. I found this website, followed her advice, and got it under control. I still have episodes but they're a lot fewer and farther in-between than they used to be. None of her recommendations are controversial. Basically, she gives lists of food that are always ok, never ok, and ok after eating certain other foods. She also teaches you ways to prepare foods so that they can be eaten. She recommends drinking some acacia fiber in water before each meal. I hate doing it because it's an extra step but it doesn't taste bad. She sells some books, teas and other products also.

I'm typically a skeptical person who doesn't trust in new age woohoo. I prefer to follow the doctor's advice. What I found is that the doctor's advice was pretty general and that he was unconcerned about my discomfort once we ruled out a fatal disease. The website gives more specific advice that builds on the general advice from the doctor.

I started with her advice on how to made the episodes stop which meant cutting out most foods until I started to feel okay. Then I started adding foods back in and seeing what I could tolerate. Over the years my G.I. tract has gotten more healthy and I've been able to relax some. Then I relax too much, have an episode, and have to scale back for a while.

The doctor prescribed an anti-spasmoid for me called hyoscimine. That helps on really bad days.

It took months for me to stop missing work and activities because of the IBS. I still have to lay down during the day sometimes.

Exercise has really helped me. In addition, I listened to the meditation CD's that are recommended on the website. I don't know how much they helped but after I did them my episodes really decreased. That was hard for me because I really don't believe in stuff like that but I was desperate at that point and willing to try anything. If nothing else it was a pleasant way to go to sleep at night! It's a hassle but not undoable


My heart goes out to your kid--this problem is painful, embarrassing and so mysterious. I'm prone to IBS-like symptoms at unpredictable times. The longest bout (3 years) resolved entirely when I quit a stressful job. But I can have these symptoms when I'm not particularly stressed, too.

Look at broad spectrum pro-biotics and possibly fiber. Activia yogurt is an option, but I use Lifeway kefir, which has 12 different probiotic strains; I look for Bifidobacterium. Helped a lot. Megaflora capsules (Whole Foods, refrigerated section) are even better, like a magic bullet for me. As I get better, I usually add some psyllium fiber capsules. Probiotics and fiber can have their own health issues, so start small and increase gradually to see if they work for your child. --Good Luck


I would suggest a food diary to see if any food allergies cause the problem. Another idea is a fecal transplant. It sounds gross, but is very effective for C. difficile, and does work in some IBS cases. http://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-professionals/clinical-updates/digestive-diseases/quick-inexpensive-90-percent-cure-rate Anon


My son has had trouble with stomach aches for over a year and through working with a pediatric GI, have gotten them to be much less frequent (went him complaining about stomach aches 7Xs a day to a few times a week). I sympathize with your situation, it is so hard to see your child in pain and not know how to alleviate it.

I am hoping that it is a GI and not your pediatrician that you are working with, as you really need a specialist. I highly recommend our pediatric GI. Dr. Sabina Ali. She is in Walnut Creek and associated with Lucille Packard. Number is (925) 932-2456 and website http://www.pcha.org/practices/dr-sabina-ali.html

Before accepting an IBS diagnosis, I would want to rule out lactose intolerance, food allergies (food allergies can cause stomach aches), celiac, Crohn's disease, diverticulitis, gluten sensitivity, and constipation (your kid can go seemingly regularly and have blockage that causes pain). If you do end up with IBS (or a mixture of the others which is what my son ended up with) I highly recommend trying an elimination diet and keeping a detailed food/bowel movement journal. I found it incredibly helpful. Though, I have found that it is a very long and often frustrating process to figure it out. Good luck! Been there


Hope I can help, I suffered too for 15 years. My doctor ran many tests and found nothing and diagnosed me with IBS. I have since learned IBS is the catchall phrase when physicians don't know.

Make sure with MD it's not serious, but don't expect help for IBS. Over time I began to notice my IBS episodes were related to what I had eaten and believe my IBS is a non-antigenic food allergy. Sensitive digestive system.

You will need to experiment with your son to see what triggers it for him. It's not easy. What he can tolerate at one meal he might not the next time he eats it. You are going to have to experiment to find the triggers. At each meal think what's he ate, and how the food was prepared. Over time you will find the triggers. I now have a good sense of what I need to avoid.

Start by completely avoid everything from fast food place McDonalds, Jack in the Box, Taco Bell, Subway, and all chains Boston Market, Olive Garden, Applebees, etc. (I think it's the preservatives, additives and cooking oil/grease.) Eliminate all beef (steaks, hamburgers, barbecue). Avoid all frozen foods, and prepared foods such as what Trader Joes sells. (I think it's the preservatives.) Completely avoid foods synthetic fats, (olestra), synthetic/fake sugars, cheap oil and substitute fats as well as foods with preservative like cut apples, carrots. Some brands trigger it for me, Oreos, graham crackers, some brands of ice cream, milk, and at times oranges. I can't tolerate sauces especially barbecue, anything with black pepper, sundried tomatoes, lamb and egges. Beef barbecued, roast beef and pastrami and most Indian dishes I can't tolerate either.

Teach your son to ''listen'' to his body after he eats. Within an hour or two after eating he should ''feel'' it and know.

Food I can tolerate include breads, cereals, nuts, sandwiches, (no mayo) salads, chicken, pork, fish, most fruits and vegetables. There are some foods my body tells me I shouldn't eat like barbecued or roast beef and pastrami. It's take more years of trial and error to figure it out. I hope my years of testing will help your son. ANON


About 8 years ago I was experiencing severe digestive issues. I saw my Doctor, a gastro guy, and an Internist. The doctor said eat more fiber, drink more water. The gastro guy said take metamucile. The internist, who gave me all of 5 minutes and did no tests, diagnosed me with IBS and gave me some meds that I did not take. All of this was AFTER seeing the accupunturist and enduring a colonic with another practitioner. What helped me was an Ayurvedic remedy called Triphala. It was when Elephant Pharmacy had different practitioners come in and talk with people. I spoke with a woman for 30 minutes and she suggested it. I was skeptical, but was willing to give it a go. Within 3 days my body began to regulate itself. I NEVER experienced any side effects.I keep it in my med cabinet always. I take it on vacation with me. Every body, every system is different, but I swear by this remedy. Google it. Check it out. It might help your son. Been there


I was diagnosed with IBS when I was 11, suffering from stomach issues (mainly chronic diarrhea). I'm in my late 30s, so at the time an IBS diagnosis was new and it seemed like 'we don't know why your stomach is always upset, it's chronic, just deal with it'. Anyway, I urge you to consider the timing of this happening with the onset of puberty. Looking back, I developed pretty severe anxiety as I hit puberty, but I didn't have the language or knowledge about what anxiety actually was. Had no idea that other people didn't think anxious thoughts all the time like I did - or worse, I felt really weird and ashamed by my thoughts.

Only in my 20s did I realize that anxiety was driving my stomach issues. I became acutely self-conscious when I hit puberty - hated getting boobs, horrified to get my period in 6th grade, the acne, body images, the need to try to be cool, the hormones, the pressure of it all made me miserable. I acted confident on the outside but it was manifesting in my stomach via worrying/anxiety. For example, I became acutely embarrassed about asking to go to the bathroom in class and overwhelmed with thoughts like ''everyone must know I have diarrhea - I've already asked to go once, I can't ask to go again... if I bring my purse, they'll know I've got my period, how humiliating... what if I can't make it to the bathroom in time, oh no the teacher just said 'you already went once, wait until the end of class'...'' Then I'd work myself into a frenzy inside, sweating, dry mouth, racing heart, white noise, and I'd actually manifest stomach issues just worrying about what might happen.

Worrying became a way of life for me. I'd decline slumber parties worried that people would laugh if they knew I had diarrhea or spent too much time in the bathroom, I'd opt out of going to amusement parks or concerts because I knew there would be long bathroom lines, even relatively short car rides were terrifying because there was no bathroom, I stopped skiing - afraid I'd get stuck on the slopes with diarrhea. Just thinking about waiting in a long line would cause my stomach to gurgle even if I felt totally fine!

This was my life day in and day out. I didn't know this was anxiety or borderline OCD - I thought if I told anyone that they'd just laugh and think I was weird. In college, my IBS was worse - I'd vomit from nerves and worry. Again, ''what if I have to puke during my exam? what if I waste 10 mins in the bathroom due to diarrhea and end up failing my test?'' I felt constantly held hostage by my IBS.

Once I learned to manage my anxiety (yoga, acupuncture, medication), IBS cleared up a lot. I hope this isn't what is going on with your son, but try to talk to him about it just in case. Not suggesting that IBS isn't a real illness because it is. Worrier


The FODMAP diet guidelines can be helpful in figuring out where to start eliminating foods, and assessing any changes in symptoms. Best to start with one group at a time i.e. excess fructose, otherwise it can feel overwhelming. http://www.ibsgroup.org/brochures/fodmap-intolerances.pdf https://stanfordhealthcare.org/content/dam/SHC/for-patients-component/programs-services/clinical-nutrition-services/docs/pdf-lowfodmapdiet.pdf health professional


I am a parent with ulcerative colitis, a more extreme version of IBD. I would recommend you get your son (and yourself) on a high quality probiotic; in fact I take 2 different types and vary them, not relying on the same brands. I actually take one shelf stable brand and one refrigerated, just to hedge my bet because they are the most essential thing I do (beyond diet) to keep myself out of the hospital.

Also, my miracle drug is something prescribed to me by a naturopathic doctor which is Robert's Formula. I take Integrative Therapeutics brand, they sell on Amazon though i buy from my ND. That is a version of bastyr formula; Dr Bastyr founded the US's premiere naturopathic medical school; he knows his stuff and this medicine is a life saver.

Beyond that I take only two other things: fish oil and a Liver support. Everyone should be on both of these; dont underestimate Liver health as a compnent of this.

Then, of course, diet. I am gluten intolerant and also avoid potatoes and dairy. My only main carb is rice. Everyone has to find what works for them but diet is essential to controlling this.

Good Luck! AA


16-year-old has irritable bowel syndrome

Feb 2012

My 16 year old son has irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). I take this diagnosis with a little grain of salt because the doctors test for certain things and when they prove to be negative, they call it IBS. Many visits to doctors didn't help with the pain he's experiencing. We have tried eliminating dairy products, fried food, but no difference. Every 3 to 4 weeks, (usually at night)he is struck with unbearable pain which lasts 2-2.5 hrs. The rest of the time, he is so worried about the pain coming back that he doesn't want to eat and has lost 12 lbs since summer. This really effects the quality of life. I would greatly appreciate any recommendations for an acupuncturist, herbalist or naturopathic doctor who is specialized in digestional or intestinal problems. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.


I was diagnosed with IBS as a teenager. I sympathize with your son--by the time I was diagnosed, I was in huge pain, and at first the not knowing why I was in pain triggered more stress and more stomachaches in a vicious cycle.

You don't mention the things he has tried. There are medicines like Bentyl that relieve muscle spams in the intestinal tract. My guess (I'm not a doctor) is that he might have to take them consistently to get results. I used Bentyl for a while but found that taking enteric-coated capsules of peppermint oil, a natural antispasmodic that has had some good results in tests, worked just as well with no side effects. Again, he might want to take it regularly (ask a doctor). Also: it makes your breath minty.

I'd continue experimenting with dietary changes. In my case, I was lactose intolerant, so learning that helped a lot. Since I tended towards constipation and my family tended towards a very low-fiber diet, I moved to more whole grains, especially bran cereal for breakfast. It took a few years to see major improvement, but I did, but again, I had years of being constipated to train my body out of.

Now, 30 years later, I don't consider IBS to be a significant part of my life. I rarely get the stomachaches that were a nightly feature of my life as a teen. I limit my dairy intake, and I don't drink a lot of liquids with meals as that does trigger stomachaches. I avoid carbonated beverages. That's about it. Encourage your son to experiment with what works for him, and expect that time will improve things if he pays attention to his body.

If you really think his doctors have not correctly diagnosed him, there are some good pediatric gastroenterologists at UCSF. life no longer revolves around stomachache


I also have a 16 year old son who had suffered a terrible bout of lower abdominal pain which lasted couple of hours for years--it sounds very similar, and the pediatrician could not diagnose it. He doubled over in severe severe pain--I mean he was sweating, and almost always at night. He thought it was from something he ate and stopped eating. But it wasn't.

We have been going to John Nelson an amazing acupuncturist now for about 2 years. His pain is down to maybe a minute of small cramp once a month now and it goes away right away. It is a miracle. He goes maybe once a month or less (due to school schedule) but takes herbs he give him. He had a nose bleed issue also, so the herbs may be for that also. Try him--he is very very kind. In Berkeley, 280-4987 really grateful mother


After seeing that only one other person and myself posted a response to this, and after reading the other response, I wanted to add something. The other responder mentioned that her/his son's pediatrician hadn't been able to diagnose anything. I really encourage people to look beyond their pediatrician to a specialist if the pediatrician runs out of ideas.

My daughter had sudden-onset severe reflux problems that started at age 15 after a trip to Central America (may/may not have been related). Our pediatrician rapidly ran out of ideas for why she was having nausea and was unable to swallow, and said it was stress. I did not buy it; my daughter is the most mellow girl, and she'd already lost 10 pounds because of her symptoms. The pediatric gastroenterologists at UCSF figured it out in one visit and she saw relief almost immediately with her meds. Pediatricians are great, but their scope is limited. glad I kept researching


IBS keeping me from working full-time

Sept 2010

I have depression and anxiety due to childhood trauma and I was recently diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I have stomach cramps that are.really uncomfortable. As a result, I am not able to work more than part-time. Moat of my experience is in office administration and non-profits. I'd love a part-time job.at a socially progressive non- profit. I can't seem to find many part-time jobs in any kind of business. I'm signed up with two temp-agencies, but I'm not getting any work. Any advice? anon


For the IBS, I highly recommend Heather Van Vorous's book and website, helpforibs.com. She has so many great suggestions on managing IBS and some good products too. fellow IBS sufferer


After a few years of battling IBS unsuccessfully with Gastro docs, a Neurologist we met socially suggested getting the B12 level checked and taking B12 supplements. Her levels turned out to be low and the treatment has done wonders for her. Best of luck. KMJ


I know your question is about part-time work, but I was interested that you felt that IBS was going to keep you from working full-time. There is prescription medication for IBS to help relax the spasming muscles that cause the abdominal pain. I actually found capsules of enteric-coated peppermint oil to be just as effective (plus you get great peppermint breath), although you should avoid that if you have reflux issues. I also had very painful stomach cramps until I was diagnosed with IBS, and even left work a few days because my stomach hurt so bad. But once I learned I had IBS (an uncomfortable but not serious condition) and was very lactose-intolerant, I made dietary changes, added more fiber, etc. I also stopped panicking every time I got a stomachache. It's just a stomachache, nothing more. I no longer have daily pain. If I were you, I'd focus on getting the IBS symptoms under control--really, there is no reason to limit your lifestyle because of it! been feeling better for decades now
 


Treatment for GERD and IBS

May 2007
My husband is suffering from bad GERD, IBS, and possibly leaky gut syndrome. His symptoms are multiple, and his numerous visits to the doctors have not be very helpful. Would anyone have a recommendation for a doctor, or even better, an alternative medicine doctor (such as nutritionist, naturopath, or the like) for these conditions? We live in Fremont, but I know that around Berkeley or Oakland, there is a stronger interest for alternative medicine. Any recommendation helps. Thank you. Madeleine


I saw your post, and I was very interested in the symptoms that your husband is suffering from. Has he been tested for Celiac Disease? Aprox 95% of Americans who suffer from this autoimmune disease never get diagnosed. In the U.S.A. it takes doctors 10 years on average to correctly diagnose a person with celiac disease. In Europe it takes doctors only 1 year on average. The disease is just as common here as it is over there. About 1 in every 133 People have it. People with Celiac disease are frequently misdiagnosed as having IBS, and often suffer from GERD as well as many other problems of the intestines and the body as a whole. The symptoms can be multiple and mimic other conditions. And if not treated, it can lead to other more serious health problems and complications such as intestinal cancer and certain autoimmune diseases. If you haven't already, read about celiac disease and consider having your husband get tested for it. In Italy all children are routinely screened for the disease by age 7. It is worth looking into: http://www.celiacsprue.org/celiac.htm http://www.csaceliacs.org/CD.php Laurey


Irritable Bowel Syndrome/Stomach Issues in 17-year-old daughter

Dec 2006

My 17 year old daughter has been diagnosed with IBS. She suffers often from upset stomach, gas, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea. I myself have suffered similar sypmtoms on and off for about 15 years, however, not in my teens. We have figured out her typical 'trigger' foods, but avoiding them doesn't seem to be the cure-all we had hoped. I would greatly appreciate recommendations from sufferers of IBS as to what treatments/dietary changes, etc. have worked and what doctor(s) you might recommend. I am particularly interested in alternative therapies for now such as vitamins, supplements, etc and/or accupuncture, etc., but will be thrilled with any and all advice. This is a horribly, at times, debilitating condition for my otherwise healthy daughter. Thanks in advance Concerned Mom


I've dealt with IBD for about 15 years. What works for me is a prescription drug, obtained from a gastroenterologist, called Sulfasalazine. It's a generic so it's low-cost, there are no side effects of any import, and, in my experience, it's completely effective. I don't need to follow any special diet, or do anything else. My understanding is that Sulfasalazine is the treatment of choice for IBD. anon


Though I dn't have IBS, I do have Candida. Candida can trigger IBS. When I have Candida flare ups (caused by eating sugar and other yeast overgrowth foods)my gut gets really out of whack. I suggest you check out the yeastconnection website. You may find some answers there. Good luck anon


Hi - don't mean to question your dr's diagnosis. But, my friend had years of discomfort, etc. with IBS - then, she went to another specialist and got tested for celiac disease. Turns out she has celiac disease. With a gluten-free diet, she is doing really well and no longer has any symptoms! Good luck! anon


For 2 1/2 years I had bloating, noxious flatulence, running to the bathroom 5 times a day with 'loose' stools, etc. Did test after test with my doctor. Lost 14 lbs. Medication after medication all failed...was sent to a gastro guy who spent all of 10 minutes with me and said, you have IBS, take these pills.

I switched doctors and was sent to a gastro guy by the name of Niel Stollman (Oakland) After talking with me at length, and then trying some mild meds that didn't work I had a colonoscopy. I was scared beyond words. Dr Neil and his staff were incredible.

As it turns out I DO NOT HAVE IBS, but picked up a bad infection in my upper colon which is now being treated and is 95% better. I believe IBS is now attributed to anything that western medicene cannot discern. Don't put off getting help, it's doubtful that this will go away by itself and could do damage to other parts of the body. Best. Been there


I was diagnosed with IBS at about your daughter's age, if not younger. I was a straight A's honor student, very involved in church, with a chaotic home life. So, I always believed stress had a lot to do with it. Of course, there are trigger foods, like salad! But the most amazing thing happened when I was pregnant and nursing -- my IBS basically disappeared. Although that might have something to do with hormones, I'm not advocating that your daughter get pregnant. BUT, it did occur to me that when I was pregnant and nursing, I drank A TON of water. I now have tried to keep up that same fluid intake, and have noticed much less IBS. So, my first thought would just be to tell your daughter to drink an awful lot of water (at least 40 oz a day) and then also look for stress reducers. Hope that helps. Liz


Based on my own experience, I suggest you submit stool samples to the Great Smokies Diagnostic Lab to check for parasites. You may need to pay out of pocket (it cost about $150 when my family did this). We had stomach problems similar to those you describe,and after a long period of illness,we learned(thanks to Great Smokies Lab) that we were all infected with a very common parasite called Blastocystis Hominis. As I understand it, approximately 15% of people have this parasite, and most have very mild symptoms or are asymptomatic; a small percentage feel quite ill.I have heard that when people who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome are tested,40% are positive! It apparently is very difficult to detect, and we had many negative test results from local labs until we finally used Great Smokies. We were treated first with Flagyl, and then with two other antibiotics, Paramomycin and Humatin. In my opinion, it's worth a try, since conventional medicine has no effective treatment for IBS apart from palliative measures. Good Luck!


Look into the American Botanical Pharmacy's www.herbdoc.com to do their bowel detox. I had pretty severe stomach problems... it turned out I had several parasites. This detox helped me gain my health again anon


PLEASE go see Dr. Neil Stollman in Oakland. After practically an entire lifetime suffering from stomach and intestinal problems and semi-interested general practicioners giving me the run around (stool samples, lactose intolerance tests, yeast treatments, etc), I have finally found someone who actually knows what he is talking about. Just one visit to Dr. Stollman will be the most important 30 minutes you can devote to finding out what is really the matter Finally getting some real help


I had irritable bowel syndrome for so many years I forget. Pam Heaton, an acupuncturist near park boulevard helped alot. I learned to pay attention to what I ate and how it affected me later. Good Luck Anon


Is it really irritable bowel syndrome ?

May 2005

Since one year I am suffering from what they call irritable bowl syndrom. These are my symphtoms : belly aches, lowgrade nausea, sometimes bloating, gas, frequent bowel movements ( but not diarrhia), feels like I can't get rid of all the stool inside me, but the stool is soft. It usually is worse after I eat esspecially heavy meals but even a regular sized meal will do it. Most of the time I am not very hungry and sometimes I wake up at night from belly aches. These are not extreme cramps just always an uncomfortalbe feeling in the tummy. I've also had times when it's almost gone but it always returns.

I already went to the gastroenterologist and he did some tests: sigmoidoscopy, checking blood in stool, checking for celiac disease, an x-ray, and other blood tests for viruses and bactirial infections and 6 weeks ago I also had an ultrasound of my ovaries.I actually had to request the sigmoidoscopy and the x-ray and I had to demand to be seen by an gastroenterologist. I feel like nobody takes me serious. The doctor just said it's IBS ( irretable bowl syndrom) and send me to a psychologist.

In the back of my mind I always think, should I request even more tests, like a colonoscopy ? Can I trust the doctors or do they just want to save money ? I have Kaiser insurance by the way ! I am scared of colon cancer. I know I am only 34 and I have no familiy history of it but still, should I worry. It's just so miserable to live this way. Any advice on that subject ? anon


I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis 10 years ago, but had had it for almost 2 years until it was found by a sigmoidoscopy (sp?). At that point, I was bleeding, vomiting etc. and the doctors were still saying that I had ''the flu.'' I can totally relate to your feelings of not being heard. After being diagnosed, I had years of constipation that no one took seriously either. My gastro dr at kaiser said we have lots of nerves in our colon, so it is a mind-body issue. I found yoga and changing my life habits (getting a lot of sleep, easier job, etc.) helped a lot, but I also take medication for the UC. If you feel you need more tests, tho, get a colonoscopy. Kaiser is pretty good about giving you a test and if it will give you peace of mind, then go get it. anon


I suggest you email Dom from Australia. He does a lot of natural foods and herbs, and will probably have many ideas for how to work with this.

There are many things you can do, but for a start... Learn to make your own probiotics, such as homemade kefir and kraut. Join the yahoo kefir_making group, where you will find other people who suffer(ed) similar symptoms and are workign themselves back to health.

Oh, and Dom's address is dna [at] chariot.net.au and his website is: http://users.chariot.net.au/~dna/Makekefir.html Good health to you.


Did they run a Giardia antigen test? May be Irritable bowel but certainly want to rule out something treatable. Don't let the doctor talk you out of the test because you haven't been camping. It is one of the leading parasites in the Bay Area. my kids got it from a friend, so did I


Hi! I had to respond after reading your post because I have struggled with the same symptoms (I'm 37). When I asked my primary doc. to see a G.I. doc they said it is probably just I.B.S. and there is no point to the referral. So I looked closely at my diet and I think, quite frankly that DAIRY is the culprit. I feel so much better when I keep it out and believe me that is hard to do as it is in lots that I was eating and a great protein source (read the labels: whey, casein etc..). I simply cannot process it very well anymore. I find that Lactaid tablets help if I must have something like cheese etc.. but I still have some gassiness. Not eating it and drinking lots of water has helped a lot--much regular BM's too. Try it and see.... heather


What I've learned about anything that MD''s call ''Syndrome'' is they are really saying ''You have symptoms and we don't know what it is''. That said...TO MY KNOWLEDGE, colon cancer does not produce symptoms like yours (I could be totally wrong)but if it will set your mind at ease, you should insist on a colonoscopy. I'm surprised that given your family history they didn't prescribe a colonoscopy rather than a sygmoid. My thoughts are that you have a serious imbalance in your digestive tract. You may need a particular substance, may have a bacteria that is out of control, may have a severe food allergy that has recently developed. Have you been checked for Giardia or other parasites? I would suggest seeing a really good nutritionist who could guide you in what kind of testing to get and help you get back on the right track. I can highly recommend Nori Hudson.She is a nutritional educator and REALLY KNOWS SOOOOO MUCH! She has helped me tremendously over the years with various health issues. Good luck. I hope you feel better really soon. June K


Your symptoms sound much like mine, and you have also received the lack of care and concern from your doctors, as I did. I literally spent hours laying on the floor in my office hoping that the pain would subside enough for me to continue working for the rest of the day. My symptoms, like yours, came on strongest after eating. It got to the point that I did not want to eat for fear of an attack. When I finally decided I had to do something about it, I went to my primary care doctor, who examined me during a bout of pain and said that I had a bad case of gas. He told me to take simethicone (sp?) tablets and that was it! I went out of his office baffled that my pain and agony was dismissed without much analysis or concern. I bought the tablets and used them for a few weeks without any significant improvement. I then demanded a referral to a gastroenterologist who performed the same series of tests on me that yours performed to rule out any other culprits (cancer, etc). The diagnosis: irritable bowel. The gastro. prescribed an antispasmodic (Bentyl), which helped quite a bit. But he said something that made me really examine my life. He told me that IBS is often triggered by stress. The stress causes the large intestine to spasm, which causes for some constipation and others diarreha or bloating. At the time, my kids were 1 and 3 and I had a very stressful job. I was determined to make changes to reduce my stress. I took up yoga (alas, didn't stick with it), aerobic exercise & weight training (did stick with that), stopped drinking coffee and caffinated drinks all day and worked towards a reasonable schedule (and eventually, less stressful job). After a while, things improved greatly. I was able to trust that minor discomfort in my belly was not going to turn into a full blown attack. I have been symptom free for nearly 8 years now. I drink coffee now, but just in the morning. The good news is this was nearly 8 years ago, and I have not had any attacks since! Please make sure you care for yourself. That is how I got through this very debilitating medical problem. Former IBS sufferer


Food allergies and intolerances can cause the miseries you describe, as I know only too well. I first went to all the specialists you mentioned, and was given tests and prescriptions, and was still miserable. An allergist (conventional MD) said he didn't know what to suggest. A nutritionist helped me improve my diet, but that helped only a little. Finally I read books on food intolerance, and went on a food elimination diet to see if I could identify foods that were causing the problems. It was challenging to go through this process, but it worked for me. It turns out I can't eat wheat, eggs, soy, or corn; dairy and chocolate are okay in very very small quantities. I've adjusted pretty easily to a modified diet, and I'm sure I eat a healthier diet too. Try this approach - I hope it gets to the sources of your problems. Formerly diagnosed with 'IBS' myself


IBS is often what doctors will diagnose when they don't have any other answer to what is going on with you. I had a similar diagnosis about 2 years ago. My symptoms included pain in the abdomen, consiptation, bloating and general sense that something was not right. I started taking Metamucil and eating lots of lettuce and more fiber, but it didn't really improve things that much. After a year of that, I finally went to see a gastroenterologist (Dr. Stephen Friedman in Walnut Creek and San Ramon.) He was very, very thorough, listened to all my symptoms and said that he thought I should have a colonscopy. I was terrified, to say the least, especially as I was only 38 when this happened.

Part of doing the colonoscopy is a two-day process where you must drink an absolutely awful liquid while eating nothing more than broth or juice. It is very hard to do. However, it will completely clear your bowels and in my opinion, that is what was needed in may case.

I eat pretty healthy, but had done some fast food and other less-than-reputable restaurants over the years and I am 100% convinced that is was, as they say, something I ate. I will spare you the details, but as my bowels were being completely emptied over those few days, I saw a few things that seemed a little suspect in the toilet bowl before I flushed...

Anyway, I have been totally symptom free since then. It took about two months to be symptom free actually, but the pains in the abdomen I was having have completely disappeared (more than one year later.) I have since also started eating mostly organic, I take two tablespoons of flax seed per day, have increased my fruits/veggies dramatically, lowered carbs, protein and fat. I am losing weight and am no longer experiencing any constipation.

I discussed this all with my chiropractor who I trust way more than any other 'traditional' doctor I've ever had, and he agreed that it's entirely possible that something funky was going on and that's what my symptoms were. Unless you're eating really clean food and have never touched fast food, etc., there is a chance that that is what is going on with you as well.

My chiropractor offers a class in Detoxification and I highly recommend it. He talks a lot about food, and how the buildup of bad food over the years can take it's toll. Then, he tells you how to get rid of all that.

So, a colonscopy is scary - it's not painful, just scary. If it would make you feel better, call Dr. Friedman, he's very understanding and thorough and will do a good job for you. If that doesn't turn up anything conclusive, I would suggest a detoxification which is essentially a gentle, natural version of the horrible liquid they make you drink when you do a colonscopy. It does include doing a few enemas, but I'd take that over drinking nasty liquid for 2 days straight and no food any day. You could actually try that first and see if your symptoms improve. Please keep in mind I am not a doctor and am just relating my experience for you... hope this helps. My chiropractor is Dr. Bruce Presnick in Pleasant Hill. He runs his practice with his wife, they are very holistic and nutrition-focused and I can't say enough good things about them.

Good luck and I hope you feel better soon! been there


I'm sorry you're not feeling well. I, too was told that I had IBS, but it turned out to be gallstones. Your symptoms are exactly like mine. I finally had it properly diagnosed in the emergency room where I had gone thinking I was having a heart attack. Google gallstones or just check out: http://www.mamashealth.com/gstones.asp I wish you well. Shirley