Ever so slightly long winded questions about IBS smptoms, please answer if you can

Hey everyone,

I have a few questions which may seem a little bit silly but I hope some of you may be able to help:

1) I am currently taking Spasmonal anti- spasmodic tablets as and when I have a stomach ache. However, I am unsure if I am using them for the right pain. I usually get a stomach ache which slightly improves after passing gas (tmi- i know, sorry). Can anyone describe the type of pain they have? Is it a constant ache or does it come and go in waves?

2) What are the main symptoms you experience? and, how do you treat them?

3) Does anyone experience nausea with their IBS? I have emetophobia (fear of vomit) so I am unsure if I am experiencing anxiety relating to this or if IBS can generally cause nausea?

And finally 4) Do any of you suffer with other symptoms non-specific to IBS but feel that IBS is the main factor? For instance, quite often at least one point during the day, I will feel out of sorts, this could be mild indigestion, excess gas, headaches etc I usually recover quite quickly but it seems like there is often something wrong with me. I read somewhere that IBS can cause those other symptoms and other aches and pains etc.

Sorry for bombarding you but I would greatly appreciate any feedback.

25 Replies

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  • Hi I use spasmonal too but rather than taking it when I have stomache ache I take it routinely twice a day, once before breakfast, once before lunch then I have one buscopan before tea. I find these helps keep stomache ache at bay rather than waiting for it to start. The type of stomache aches you get can vary so there's no definitive answer for that.

    The main symptoms I have are bloating, diorreah, stomache cramps, headaches and nausea although these are all being handled quite well with medication and cutting out certain food and drink. This again is different for everyone.

    Ibs can cause nausea but having ibs can cause anxiety as it has for me. There are lots of things symptom wise caused by ibs and all you mentioned can come under the ibs balloon. It's v hard to determine what causes what as one person may have all the above symptoms as I do but someone else may have totally different. Ibs is very hit and miss. Hope this helps some

  • Thank you for your response, it has helped to clarify some things :-) I will have a go at taking Spasmonal routinely. I just tried to avoid taking a particular tablet everyday whilst having no symptoms, I know that was not the best decision now though.

    That's the annoying thing about IBS. Whilst I'm glad it is not a serious/life threatening disease, it is quite an annoying one because the possible symptoms seem to be endless!

  • It's worth a try discuss it with your doc first as all my meds are prescribed. Ibs may not be life threatening but its still life changing. No cure, stuck with it for life, no idea what causes it or how to treat it properly. Then all the other things that stem from it such as anxiety. Nobody understands unless they have it. Thank goodness for sites like this

  • I know. Coming across this site was a blessing!

    I'm on quite a few meds prescribed by the doctor too.

    It frustrates me when people think IBS is just about having diarrhoea or constipation, they don't understand how life changing it can be. I wish there was more awareness about the condition and how badly it can affect the lives of sufferers but being that it involves discussing bowel movements, I don't hold out much hope that people want to know about it :-(

  • Like you, the usual type of pain I have is gas-related and, if I can get rid of that, then the pain abates and often goes away altogether. I also experience different types of pain from time-to-time: sometimes high under my ribcage (like indigestion), sometimes small griping pains to the left side of my abdomen (as if somebody's squeezing my insides) and then there's the type that just comes in waves, and the type that remains steady...the list is endless!

    There are times when I feel nauseous, although I never actually vomit. This usually comes on if I eat fructans - especially onions and their associates.

    I control my symptoms pretty well with a much-adjusted version of the FODMAP diet (after 7 months I'm still tweaking it actually), but I do slide off it quite often as I get bored and temptation overwhelms me - especially if I'm feeling really good. How stupid can you get??

    I think IBS makes us anxious, nervous and irritable and these can bring on other little complaints such as headaches, skin irritations and just generally not feeling well.

    You're definitely not alone.

    Pagan

  • Thanks for the reassurrance Pagan.

    I experience all of the pain types you described at one point or another. I feel pain coming on now, the intermittent type.

    I have just come back from the dietician, I am going to continue amending my diet before going on the FODMAP diet. It seems quite an intense thing to adhere to and like you, I may succumb to temptation on occasions.

    It's true, IBS can cause us to feel all those emotions. It definitely is a physical condition with psychological elements.

  • To be honest I think going on the FODMAP diet sooner rather than later is the best thing for you to do, you could be fiddling around for months with different bits and pieces and still not get it right.

    I agree FODMAPS is a bit stringent for the first few weeks, but it does make you cut out all the most suspect food groups - and I think that the word 'groups' is really important here.

    If you cut out wheat and find you feel a bit better, it could indeed be gluten to which you're sensitive, although this isn't half so likely as it being the fructans in wheat causing your problems and, by eliminating all foodstuffs which contain fructans, you'll get an even better result.

    Pagan

  • hi i also get all the pains mentioned by others , and it is hard to explain to others without ibs how you feel , it gets frustrating when i keep having to say to family and friends that i can't attend events or celebrations because i need to be near a toilet and can't predict how long before I'd need to use loo , and lately blood pressures dropping when i get a sudden urge to go which causes me to get dizzy and lose balance so more stress. but glad i found this site and read that other people have same problems .

  • Hi Trishyb59,

    It is highly frustrating having to cancel attendance at events due to IBS, thankfully my family are understanding but often, others do not necessarily understand how uncomfortable it can feel when we are having an episode and so do not feel able to go out.

    I have experienced that dizzy feeling you described, on one particular occasion it was quite scary. It happened at a work dinner in January. Luckily my manager was understanding as she too suffers from IBS and she explained to me about the involvement of the vagus nerve with the gut which can cause some people to actually collapse when they are having a bad flare up. I looked into it and there is some sort of connection for some people.

  • hi totally agree with you. I have suffered with so many different types of pain over the last several weeks and no two days ever seem the same pain wise. I think the fact that you carnt really pin down when and how bad you will feel and this does make you more anxious and it makes me begin to doubt weather i have IBS or something worse. I have had all the symptoms you say and many more. Most recently i started getting spells of light headedness and feeling cold ans shivery for no reason. This prompted me to go back to the GP where until i mentioned this was going to get nothing but i said i wasnt leaving until i at least got more blood tests and grudenly the doctor agreed. I go for the tests soon in the meantime i continue to try and stay positive although it is hard when you are in so much pain and no one but you understands it which is why this site is so great.

  • Hi Ttrojen,

    Sorry to hear you are in pain. It's true, no two days are the same, pain wise or even with other symptoms. The often unpredictable nature of IBS can cause one to feel down. I am sure you are not alone in doubting your IBS diagnosis, I have also done the same. I often wonder if I should go back for more tests, although, I do not feel like it is anything too serious.

    One presumed symptom of IBS is that one often feels better after a bowel movement, however, I sometimes find the opposite, sometimes I feel fine before one and not too well after :-/ strange.

    Continue to be strong and try and remain positive even though I know it is hard. I'm only know beginning to get some semblance of my old fun life back but obviously it still remains overshadowed by the thought of the sudden onset of cramps, diarrhoea and general malaise and pain :-(

    I try to look on the bright side by thinking that thankfully it is not crohns or ulcerative colitis which could have more serious implications.

  • Thanks for your response kerrym212,

    I had an inkling that anxiety was playing a part in the nausea. Previously I used to think that the nausea was directly caused by my IBS but since having CBT sessions I am getting better at understanding the link between anxiety and the subsequent nauseaous feeling.

  • My sessions came to an end about a month ago, but I have a blueprint and techniques which I am able to refer to when needed :-)

  • Hi Kerry,

    I've read quite a bit about leaky gut before, but thought you were stuck with it and could only prevent it from becoming worse by diet change. Do you think then, that it can actually be fully healed in time?

    Pagan

  • Leaky gut is real, but I don't think it's always the problem in IBS. Leaky gut is behind serious digestive disorders like coeliac disease, and it can cause illnesses outside the digestive system like arthritis and autoimmune disease.

    For most people the problem is confined to the gut. Often it's because they have low stomach acid and poor enzyme function (so its hard to digest food properly) and dysbiosis (imbalance in the types of gut bugs, usually too many that produce gas).

    Bacteria are an intrinsic part of our digestive system, but it's quite easy to end up with an imbalance, through poor diet choices, antibiotics, the aftermath of food poisoning, or just our inheritance (we get most of our gut bug from our mothers).

    FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates that feed gut bacteria... by controlling what you eat, you're controlling what the gut bugs eat - and if they don't get the food they want, then their numbers are reduced and this can help reduce symptoms.

    It's hard to change our gut bacteria, but over the longer term I think it can be done, so things settle down.

    Anyway, that's a slightly different point of view for you!

  • Hi poing,

    Thanks very much for your reply which made a great deal of sense to me.

    To begin with, my mother had extremely bad digestive problems which, as you say, I could have inherited from her. In fact, that seems the most likely explanation as I've rarely eaten a bad diet, can't remember the last occasion when I took antibiotics and have only ever had food poisoning on one occasion about 15 years' ago.

    FODMAPs (with several adjustments) works extremely well for me and I can now infrequently eat small quantities of high FODMAP foods. If I overdo it, however, I experience considerable pain - which feels exactly like trapped gas - and some nausea along with other 'normal' IBS-D symptoms.

    Although I've tried taking probiotics over lengthy periods, including Symprove and VSL#3, none of them seems to make any noticeable difference. Do you have any information about these?

    I'm now going down the aloe vera route - anything's worth a try!

    Pagan

  • Apparently babies are born with a sterile digestive tract, and they have a kind of immune tolerance in the first few weeks of life that allows the gut flora to become established. This creates a kind of programming... the bacteria from those few weeks are permitted, and anything that comes along later is rejected. So it's quite hard for new strains to colonise the gut if they weren't part of the original gut flora. So many probiotics only work while you are taking them.

    Also, quite a lot of the gut flora is anaerobic, which means it can't survive in air, and therefore can't be given as a probiotic. The only way those anaerobic bacteria can be given by fecal bacteriotherapy (a poop transplant) - from a healthy donor that's a close relative who therefore shares a lot of the same gut bacteria. That's how that works... but it's not mainstream.

    I also wonder about the wisdom of giving more bacteria to a person who has a bacterial overgrowth (which is what I reckon IBS-D is)... if you happen to be lucky and pick on a missing strain, it might help balance things out, but you might also pick on a strain that you already have too much of! Probiotics are terribly hit and miss at the moment.

    Personally I'm trying to improve my digestive function by adding acid, enzymes and bile - so that there isn't so much undigested food around to feed the wrong kinds of gut bacteria (and hopefully reduce food sensitivities, of which I have developed several). Only just started, so I'm not sure how well this is working yet... I suspect it's going to take a long time.

    poing

  • Many thanks once again for your reply which I found very informative.

    I've had a SIBO test which was negative, but I don't know whether that covered all possible strains of bacteria that might be present. I think you're absolutely right about probiotics being very hit-and-miss, perhaps I'll keep trying different brands and hope that I eventually hit on one that works for me. Holland and Barrett's Acidophilus gave me a lot of problems.

    You've made me think about enzymes again (my dietitian mentioned these to me) and I've had a quick look on the web, but those that I've found so far contain odds-an-ends of ingredients that don't suit me, e.g. rice (in capsule shells) and sodium benzoate, but will pursue it.

    I hope your combination of acid, enzymes and bile gives yoy some good results ... eventually!

    Pagan

  • When teaching about health, one piece of information lodged in my mind, that soldiers returning from the Eastern Front, who had been medically examined on entry into the army and had been found to have stomach ulcers, had none on return. This was put down to foraging for food and eating it raw. Point is, I believe we can all return to health, by finding our safe foods and thus allowing our digestive systems to heal. My food diary has been my primary tool and eating smaller quantities. I know it's not that simple or fast but hold on to finding your way through, back to health, albeit with a changed diet.

  • Thank you Matusadona, I am going to seriously consider what I eat now and I am going to ensure that I cut down my wheat intake as yesterday whilst visiting the dietician, I realised I eat a lot of wheat and was told I may have a wheat intolerance. We'll see how it goes :-)

  • Thanks for the info Kerry. I know, it is so strange that even sauces contain wheat, I wondered why they made marinades, etc in the shop in the wheat/gluten free range!

    I am trying wheat alternative products. I really hope it is not a wheat intolerance, right now it is just speculation, we are trying to discover what in my diet could be giving me symptoms.

  • It seems so complicated to get this food thing right. I'm going to have to make sure that I read ingredient labels properly now.

  • Lol, that's a good elimination method!

  • Hi

    I just posted a bit of a long-winded cry for help myself. Here is a long-winded response (hope it helps!)

    Re: 1), I usually get pain quite low down, or in my side, ususally associated with being severely constipated or having trapped gas. Antispasmodics didn't help me personally. I don't know how reassuring this is, but in my 12 years of IBS I have had pain in all different places, sometimes constant and sometimes in waves, varying from achy to sharp to dull - so I think anything is 'normal' IBS pain! Sometimes when I am very constipated, I get very bad cramps low down in my intestines just before I finally go to the toilet (like bad period cramps, but it passes quite quickly). I also tense up when I get anxious so I try to consciously relax my stomach muscles and remember to breathe!

    Re: 2) My main symptom is constipation, which doesn't seem to be helped by laxatives like movicol or lactulose (that just causes temporary diarrhoea then it goes back to constipation). The best things I have found are drinking plenty of fluids especially peppermint or other herbal teas, avoiding fibre like bran, but making sure you get soluble fibre in your diet. I find that things like meat and cheese aggravate my constipation - you're probably different but I would strongly recommend keeping a food diary to try and work out what makes it worse/better. Gentle exercise (or vigorous if you like!) helps to get things moving too.

    Re: 3) I also have emetophobia. I have suffered with since I was ten (I'm 28 now), and I got IBS when I was 16. I know how awful the two are together! I suffer from a lot of nausea but am also unsure whether it's a symptom of the IBS or whether it's caused by anxiety. it's a vicious circle: IBS - nausea - anxiety/fear - worse IBS - worse nausea - worse anxiety etc. If you have emetophobia too then you probably know all this already but I try ginger sweets/ginger in hot water, peppermint/camomile tea, and when I really can't handle the nausea and anxiety I take domperidone. I've had a lot of therapy for the emetophobia but nothing has helped. It ruins my life and it's very hard for other people to understand how bad it is, and how much worse it is in combination with IBS. Happy to offer support anytime, I know what it's like.

    Re 4) I completely know what you mean - I also feel quite 'out of sorts' at some point almost every day. Like just a general feeling of unwell-ness, it makes me feel quite low/anxious, which often sets everything else off! I do get other symptoms that I think are related to my IBS - here is a full list for you (obvious IBS symptoms and others - sorry for tmi in advance!):

    Pain/cramping (anywhere in stomach or intestines, any type)

    Constipation (occasionally alternating with diarrhoea - not severe)

    Incomplete evacuation (feeling like you never really empty your bowel)

    Gas/bloating/burping/stomach rumbling

    Sometimes poor appetite (espcially if I'm afraid that eating will cause nausea)

    Feeling very full after even a small meal

    Nausea (related to IBS and anxiety)

    Tiredness and lack of energy, even when I sleep plenty

    Headaches (worse when constipated)

    Anxiety/stress/becoming emotional

    Also worth mentioning that all my IBS symptoms are much worse when I have my period or if I am sleep-deprived. If I eat a large meal I can feel nauseous/full/in pain for days afterwards.

    Hope this wasn't too long (I know you have already had a lot of answers). Happy to answer any other questions!

  • Hiya clop159, thanks for your response. You covered each of my queries in depth, for that I am very grateful :-)

    It is so good to find someone who has IBS AND emetophobia, it is definitely not a good combination.

    I get all of the symptoms that you listed but instead of constipation, I suffer from diarrhoea more often. All of these symptoms combined make me fearful of going out or making plans, I become anxious, nauseous and then the emetophobic thoughts begin which exacerbates my symptoms!

    I've heard that periods can wreak havoc with IBS, I can't say that I have noticed much of a change around that time, but I do know I need to use the toilet often which is annoying!

    I am so glad to be able to talk to people who understand what it is like, people probably think I'm always unwell in some way and I can understand that it may look that way but I would hate to think that I am coming across as a hypochondriac!

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