IBS or Crohn's?

by Chole
(Binghamton, ny)

Hi, my name is Chole and when I was about 12 years old I was diagnosed with IBS. It went away shortly after that, but came back like 2 years ago and has been getting worse and worse. I am currently 23 years old. It seems the more stressed I get, the worse it gets. For the past 3 menstrual cycles, it has gotten worse as my period begins. I have completely lost my appetite, nothing sounds good to me anymore, I have lost 30 lbs in the last 11 months, which doesnt seem like much, but I'm down to 105 lbs and I really don't want to get any smaller, but it's hard to gain weight when food disgusts you. I went from eating like a large man to having to force myself to eat and since i have hypoglycemia, it really concerns me. there have been plenty of times where i have had to force myself to eat because my sugar has dropped to the point of making me almost pass out. My stools have also been very mucousy and paler in color. There is also small amount of blood in stools when it's acting up. I also get these unbearable cramps in my lower abdomen which i contributed to ovarian cysts but this pain feels like its more in my intestines, like right before you get the stomach flu, than my ovaries. I don't know whether I'm just being paranoid and it's just severe IBS or if I truly may have Crohn's disease. It really worries me because my grandfather died 2 years ago from colon cancer. I'd really appreciate any input. Thank you.

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IBS or Crohn's NEW
by: Annette Young

Hello there,

Thank you for your post. I am really sorry to hear that things have been so bad. It may well be Crohn's disease but you would need an official diagnosis and this can take some time because there are other conditions that it could be and, Crohn's does not always show up initially.

I worry about your lack of appetite and nausea and I do not want you to miss out on vital nutrients. Having a well-balanced diet is vital, your body needs it to help heal and just to be able to function properly. As regards your periods, I do know women who have Crohn's disease and they struggle with their monthly periods too and it seems to be worse for them during this time.

I can understand you not wanting to eat if you are experiencing a lot of pain and this is what happens to a lot of people when they have Crohn's disease, even if they enjoy food it hurts them to digest it. But you sound as if you have several health problems going on and so it is really important to you to live a balanced lifestyle with a healthy eating plan so that even though you have no appetite you can adapt.

I hope by the time you read this that you will have had some medical assistance and are now feeling a lot better.

Many people do go on to live fairly normal lives although it is likely that you will experience flare-ups from time to time. It's important to try to live intuitively and to listen to your body. If you feel tired, rest. When you feel hungry, eat very easy to digestive foods so that your body does not have to work hard to process the food. If you feel stressed, try and relax. This way you can avoid certain triggers that can make a flare-up possible.

Do let us know how you're getting on.
Best wishes,

Crohns or ibs or cancer NEW
by: Joe s

I'm a 28 yo. Male and I suffer from alot of symptoms you describe. Another symptom I suffer from is my anus feels like it shakes and feels like I can't hold my stool in. What can that be.

Thanks =) NEW
by: Chole

Thank you so much for the advice, I will make sure to bring all of this up to my doctor. I actually made an appointment with a Gastroenterologist on Jan 10, but in the mean time I will follow your advice and hopefully it will help. Thanks again, I really appreciate you taking the time to help me out.

IBS or Crohn's? NEW
by: Lydia D.

I suggest that you keep a patient diary, including weight, pain, food (calories), etc.
Bristol Stool Scale
Comparative Pain Scale

Try eliminating gluten from your diet - you might have coeliac disease. If this is the case, then diet modification should offer almost instant relief. A certain percentage of IBS-diagnosed patients actually have coeliac disease and not IBS http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coeliac_disease

On the other hand, your lack of appetite and nausea could indicate an obstruction of some sort: Crohn's inflammation or a stenosis or stricture, a tumour, etc. Crohn's patients frequently have a very hard time with their monthlies because the Crohn's inflammation causes inflammation of the surrounding organs.

You need to consult a doctor about this and approach it scientifically.

I would also encourage you in the interim to start taking a medium dose vitamin B-complex capsule and Ensure or some equivalent astronaut drink to address the malabsorption. Discuss all the above with your doctor and/or pharmacist. Walmart vitamins are fine. The WHO recommends taking 20 mg zinc a day if you have chronic diarrhoea. You run the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, etc. if the malabsorption is not addressed.

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