I've been posting quite a bit lately. I have had a flare up over the past few days but nothing too horrific. Mostly it's my worry that's causing me to seek reassurance rather than my symptoms. I know nobody can 'diagnose' me here and the obvious answer is to just go to the doctors (again!) which I will do when I get the chance. But for now I just wondered if anyone could relate to any of my symptoms and reassure me that they're more likely to be IBS than anything life threatening! As anxiety is one of my main triggers, the worry is making my symptoms worse and I'm in a vicious cycle at the minute. So here there are:

- Occasional erratic bowel movements - I can go for weeks with fairly regular/normal movements (although generally on the looser side) but then I'll have a few days of diarrhea and/or constipation. I also suffer from anxiety related IBS and get way more bouts of diarrhea if I'm in an anxious situation. 

- Infrequent bleeding. Maybe one or two instances of bright red blood from my back passage every 6 months or so. Usually during a flare up or following a painful BM. I've had this checked and GP advised I have external piles which are probably the likely cause.

- A slight twinge on my left side in my abdominal area. Usually felt when passing a movement or when I'm windy (sorry TMI!) Not painful as such but a sharp twinge. 

- Lower back ache that comes and goes. 

I don't have any real abdominal pain/cramping and my symptoms aren't persistent - they come and go. But during a flare up I'm constantly googling my symptoms and the one thing that pops up over and over is bowel cancer, especially because of the bleeding/diarrhea. Can anyone offer any support or reassurance? I'm only 29 and there is no family history of the condition but I'm totally worried and don't know where to go from here. 

13 Replies

  • Hi,

    Completely understand your concerns, we all go to 'Dr Google' and frighten ourselves to death - usually for no good reason!

    The first thing to get straight is that IBS is not a disease, it's a syndrome, (see this article: ), so any digestive problems to which doctors can't find answers get lumped under that heading, but all it means is that they haven't got a clue what's wrong with you. In order to reach that point however, tests/scans etc must be done to rule out diagnosable illnesses.

    Have you had a colonoscopy, scans of any kind, tests for coeliac, crohns etc?

    I've got internal piles which give me grief on occasion and also cause me to pass drops of bright red blood from time-to-time.

    The sharp pains you mention are most likely caused by wind (no wonder babies make so much fuss about it!) and gripe water will often help with these.

    Has your doctor given you any meds to help with your anxiety problems?


  • Hi Rosie, thanks so much for your reply. It means a lot. In short, no I haven't had any proper tests done. The first time I saw my old GP about this she asked me some questions and did an examination of my stomach (basically just pressing on it) and diagnosed IBS off the back of that. Shes since retired. I had blood tests about 6 months ago as I was feeling generally lethargic and rubbish and they all came back OK. I discussed the bleeding with my GP when I got the results for them and that's when she did the digi-exam and diagnosed piles. I did have a colonoscopy about 7 years for something else (I was having pelvic pain and they wanted to rule out any issues with the bowel) and nothing came of that...but then it was quite a long time ago. 

    So it feels as if maybe I haven't had thorough enough tests. Having said that, the colonoscopy was a horrid experience and I really don't want to go through it again if there's no reason to. I think my anxiety would make it a huge ordeal. I'm not currently taking and medication - i guess because my symptoms come and go I'm reluctant to start taking anything. If it got worse I may consider it. I do occasionally self medicate with Immodium but that's not ideal. 

    I am thinking about going back and speaking to my new GP again but I'm not sure what to say. 

  • Yes, do pay your GP a visit. IBS is not a diagnosis of any kind and, in fact, a Canadian doctor was on here only a few days ago, saying exactly that.

    I would ask for a referral to a colorectal consultant; it was by seeing one of these late last year that I finally got a true diagnosis of a lot of my symptoms  - I found gastroenterologists were pretty useless.

    If you can't face a colonoscopy again, you can ask for a colonography which is non-invasive and done with a CT scanner.


  • Did you have B12 test or Vit D? Low B12 can affect gut and create anxiety so worth getting both tested x

  • I did have low levels of vitamin D, I was given supplements. I had no idea that could create gut/anxiety issues though. I thought it just made you feel run down x

  • Have a look at Vitamin D Wellness group on Facebook - mostly low B12 that can cause anxiety - great book is Could it be B12? Often low with gut issues. Good luck- fantastic support on here from everyone x

  • Hi there Bee - first off I want to say I'm SO glad there's someone nearer my age on here! I'm still only 18 but it's good to know we're not the odd ones out :)

    Totally inconsistent bowel movements seem to be key to IBS. I rarely have diarrhea but my constipation seems to have no particular trigger or source. One week you're fine, then you'll be bed-ridden for the next two. It's such a scary place to be, especially when you're alone in it!! Rest assured though, having read your symptoms they resonate with me a lot, so you're not alone. During and around a BM I get so wretchedly ill, even to the point of vomiting from the nausea. Part of that is the 'twinge' that you mention, it's like a muscle spasm and hurts like hell, right? I had a sigmeudoscopy (a mini-colonoscopy) and was dumbfounded when I saw my entire inner bowel was perfectly pink and healthy-looking. There was NO way all this pain, discomfort and uncertainty came from nothing?? Well, apparently so. I also have Generalised Anxiety Disorder, so it's pretty much all caused by stress, like you. It really is a vicious cycle because you get stressed for whatever reason, have a flare-up, stress about the flare-up, make it worse, stress, make it worse etc etc until you're in absolute bits, it's such a horrible place to be when you're on your own in it.

    Don't take everything your doctor says at face value, I had a very rude gastroenterologist tell me point blank that there was "absolutely no possible way" I'd have a bacterial overgrowth in my small intestine because I'd know about it. But I kept pushing, and low and behold, guess what I'm now on antibiotics for? You have to keep pressing them, it'll feel like you're overreacting but you're better off on the safe side, I find.

    So yeah, you're DEFINITELY not on your own in your symptoms! What's really helped me is taking time out each day to concentrate on relaxing - there's an app called 'Headspace' that I really recommend, just 10 minutes a day of totally unpretentious, simple meditation. It's all guided too so you don't feel at a loss. Also hot water bottles, ginger tea and strong mints for the nausea, and just generally creating a space for yourself at home where you can relax and let whatever bad feelings/thoughts you have to just exist without worrying yourself into a tizz about them all day. Easier said than done, of course, but it's the best thing I can offer! Find out what helps you to relax be it music or a certain food or anything, really. If you've ever had counselling you might know it as having anchors, I find they're super helpful for physical as well as mental hurt.

    Also refrain from turning to google! It will really mess with your head.

    Hope all this helps, it's a really lonely place to be but you're in good company here!

  • Hi Pseudenim, thanks so much for your helpful reply. Sorry to hear you're suffering too. When you're young it really does suck to feel this ill but they do say IBS presents itself during your twenties (although you're not quite there yet!) 

    I have actually used Headspace in the past. I did the free trial and it did help to calm me down although when I'm in the midst of an IBS related panic (i.e. in the car and working myself up so much that I actually need the toilet urgently) I find it very hard to get in the zone so to speak. But I did like it and only stopped using it as I couldn't afford the paid version! 

    Are you currently taking any meds? I've been prescribed merbevarine before but since I don't really experience pain I didn't take it. The twinge you mention sounds similar but for me, it's always in the same place and literally feels like a very quick stabbing sensation, then it goes away. Almost as if there is something in that section of my abdomen that isn't quite right. There I go again, thinking the worst lol x

  • I've experienced all your symptoms and am convinced that what you've got is IBS (which I appreciate isn't a helpful diagnosis and why I prefer to consider IBS a symptom rather than a syndrome) rather than anything more serious. You've had the blood tests to rule out anything else - if you wanted to you could always ask the doctor to repeat them just to check there are no changes.

    I can't remember if it was you I responded to before, but mebeverine isn't used for pain relief; rather it will help to calm the bowel so it doesn't go into overdrive after eating so I would recommend taking it during a flare-up (it doesn't need to be taken daily) and see if things improve.

    In my experience, mebeverine made me more constipated and, probably as a result of this, a bit more gassy. Therefore, it could cause more pain but everyone is an individual and you try out this drug first as it has the fewest side effects. If that doesn't work, you can go back to your doctor and ask to try a different drug (there are a range of drugs you can try and it's a process of trial and error I'm afraid to find one that works for you).

    As an interesting aside, there was a bit of research done a couple of years ago that found that some IBS sufferers had a greater concentration of pain receptors in their sigmoid colon (lower left abdomen). This might account for why some of us occasionally experience sharp stabbing pains when we have IBS flare-ups.

  • Thanks so much for reply, it's really helpful to hear other peoples experience and advice. Deep down I feel sure it is IBS. Surely if it were something serious the symptoms would present more regularly/persistently? But I just can't shake off the worry. Which in turn makes it all a lot worse.

    I thought merbevarine was an anti-spasmodic that just relieved cramps but if it can slow the gut down too it might be worth trying as a lot of my issues are related to IBS-D and the dreaded runs. 

  • It's the spasms that may be moving the food through the bowel quicker than they should or triggering the IBS-D. In some IBS patients, the bowel muscles close to the rectum go a little crazy shortly after eating, so it's no surprise that people can experience pain and diarrhoea soon after. See for an image of this. It would be interesting to see a similar experiment to test whether mebeverine does actually make this less acute.

  • Exactly wat I'm like and I'm 53 and gone thru menopause, I imagine I have ovarian cancer constantly !!! Wen I'm thinking logically I think how can I go 7-8 wks with no pain then it comes back on left lower abdomen and it's horrendous but surely if it was serious it'd be constant. 

  • You'd think so wouldn't you? I'm not sure if that's how it works though. The fact I can go through quite long periods of relative calm does feel encouraging though. I know there are people on this forum that suffer all day, every day. I can't imagine how debilitating that must be. 

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