As some of you may know, I am newly diagnosed with CD but have had symptoms on and off for a few years. After reading many posts here, I am amazed at how many people here had a reflux diagnosis first. Since they still don't understand what causes CD, I'm wondering if these diseases (reflux, CD) are related in some way.
Of course, then you get into the whole chicken/egg debate. Can reflux symptoms be a precursor to CD or possibly be CD misdiagnosed as reflux, or could the medications they prescribe for reflux somehow cause you to develop CD?
I was diagnosed with reflux in 1999, and went on Prilosec. I was on that for over a year. Within that time, I started developing unusual bowel problems... sporadic episodes of mucous, blood, etc. Upper endoscopy and two colonoscopies over the course of a few years showed no problems. After stopping the Prilosex, I have taken over the counter anti-acid medications (Pepcid, Tums) on and off until last year.
Fast forward to last year. I started to have much more pain and blood when having a bm. My gastroenterologist assured me it was just hemhorroids and did nothing. Finally, I insisted on another colonoscopy and it showed ulcerative proctitis. A stool sample sent off at the same time came back positive for C.diff. After a course of Flagyl, then oral Vanco, my stool tests were negative for C.Diff.
I have read that the incidence of C.diff infection among people taking antacids and reflux medications is much higher than average. These medications lower the acidity of the GI tract, which makes it easier for C.diff spores and bacteria to survive in the GI tract and become colonized.
Which raises the question, if reflux medications do not cause CD, could a C.diff infection (past or present) be the culprit?
In addition to my bowel problems, I had been having recurrent lower right quadrant pain for several years. One time, the pain was excruciating and I developed a slight fever, so I went to the ER because I thought it was my appendix. CT scan was negative for appendicitis and I was sent home. My gastroenterologist said it was nothing to worry about. I still have this pain, on and off to varying degrees, to this day.
about a year ago, I also became very anemic (now resolved thanks to iron supplements, which I no longer have to take.) I understand now that this can be a symptom of CD. So can lower right quadrant pain.
I asked my gastroenterologist to do a small capsule endoscopy to check my small bowel. He didn't want to do it, said the insurance company probably wouldn't pay for it, and wanted to do a small bowel series instead. I didn't want the radiation exposure, plus I have read that small capsule endoscopies, while newer, are more accurate in allowing a doctor to visualize certain conditions. He still wouldn't do it.
So I found a new gastroenterologist, who did the small capsule endoscopy right away based on my symptoms (insurance paid, not a problem), which is the test that showed ulcers in my terminal ileum - diagnosis: Crohn's.
I am glad to finally have an answer about the pain in the side. I am not happy about having Crohn's, and wonder what could have caused it. Could the reflux medication I took years ago have caused it? Or was it the combination of taking reflux medication at the same time as an anti-depressant (Wellbutrin) that caused it? Or, did the medications allow me to develop a chronic, low-grade C.diff infection that caused immune changes in my digestive tract, which set me up for Crohn's?
I wonder if there are any researchers out there looking into the possible connection between these health issues. It would be nice to have an answer or a cure, instead of just another less-than-perfect drug to treat this dreadful disease.
I would love to hear about your experiences with reflux and reflux medications, and how they relate to your Crohn's diagnosis.