IBS, Alcohol, and Imodium

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NYtummy
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Date Joined Jun 2008
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   Posted 6/19/2008 4:19 PM (GMT -6)   
I have had IBS-D practically my whole life and have yet to discover many foods/drinks that are known triggers, which makes eating a crap shoot (no pun intended!) every day.  One thing that I do know absolutely triggers my D is alcohol.  If I drink, without fail, the next morning I will be sick. I have discovered that if I take 2 Imodium before I start drinking, this usually makes my morning BM much more normal, and often completely free of D. My main concern is that this is a bad habit to get into, particularly because I end up taking Imodium several times a week. I don't actually drink that much alcohol (even one drink can give me loose stools) but I usually have occasions to drink at least once during the week and sometimes even twice on the weekends. That is a lot of Imodium and it usually takes a few days to really get back on track.  I'm wondering what others' thoughts are on this.

Keriamon
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   Posted 6/19/2008 4:25 PM (GMT -6)   
What kind of alcohol is it? Beer seems to be universally bad. Wine is mostly bad. But a small percentage of people actually get better bowel function with a shot of hard liquor.

If I was taking Imodium several times a week, I'd lay off the alcohol except about once a month. As someone who was pretty much a tee-totaler before I got bowel problems, I've found you can still have fun even if everyone else is drinking. I became rather fond of a Finch's orange drink mixed with a Finch's white lemonade when I was in pubs in Ireland. When my husband and I were in England and Scotland, he'd have a pint or two with dinner and I would have water and that was fine (I can't have caffeine, so no cokes for me).

I'd just save up the drinking for special occasions or a planned outing once a month. Otherwise, just say your "stomach's not up for it tonight."

7Lil
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   Posted 6/19/2008 8:26 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi NYtummy,
Welcome to HealingWell! :-)

I'm with you on the Imodium coupled with alcohol. I do the same thing. It works! I found, however, that if I'm going to be drinking more than once every could weeks, I need to do so in moderation. I save the Imodim for the day I know I'm going to be having the most "fun." Or for the most important event (like a date!). I'm not a beer or wine drinker, I go for the hard liquor... So, if I'm not taking Imodium that night then I'll only have 1 or 2 shots, and stick to water the rest of the time. My guts are usually OK the following morning with that sort of limited alcohol consumption.
It's probably not the answer you were looking for... But, I think your best bet is to keep the heavier drinking to a minimum.


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Sarita
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   Posted 6/19/2008 11:27 PM (GMT -6)   
You have to talk to your doctor about this, of course, but a few Imodium every week shouldn't be that much of a problem. But obviously if the alcohol makes it worse, it'd make sense to back off from it. I'm the first to admit that what I "should" do isn't what I always end up doing...so I hear you on that point. As long as you are upfront about your drinking/Imodium/bathroom habits with your doctor - this is the key - you are probably okay to follow whatever advice the doc gives you!
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Marsky
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Date Joined Jul 2007
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   Posted 6/20/2008 7:57 AM (GMT -6)   
I had a temporary colostomy after my colon resection (cancer) in 1999, for two months. I had a strict ostomy diet to follow - one area I had to avoid was all carbonated beverages, including canned beer. In fact my diet went further, explaining that all beer was out (because of the yeast used to make it). If I wanted a drink with alcohol, wine was suggested. But in moderation. After my ostomy takedown, I was a real mess. Trying to regulate a new diet (discovered I need to be on a low residue diet from now on, but that's another subject).

Long story short, even if had a beer or two in moderation, I paid for it. I wondered if I should just stick to wine from now on.

Fast forward 9 years later, and on occasion I enjoy one bottle of beer. Every week or so (nothing like you describe). But I finally learned the hard way - beer isn't that good for my gut and the after effects were just not worth it.

I clearly remember going to a Halloween party the Fall after my ostomy takedown. The host had bought a keg of dark beer from a local brewery/restaurant. In other words, very good beer, that everyone raved about. I recall my husband bringing me a glass, saying - you may not want to drink this. I took a few sips and it was sooooo good. I threw caution to the wind and had 2 glasses.

The following morning, I had the most thorough bowel clean out I've ever had - even better than my ostomy takedown surgery prep (2 day liquid diet, 1 day of Magnesium Citrate!)......

So I do joke with my doctor - hey why can't I just drink dark micro-beer instead of the ever so tasty phospho soda? LOL

I think you will realize in time if you should avoid beer or not. It's just something that each individual with IBS has to face - is it worth it, the following day when all you know what breaks loose....

Mary

NYtummy
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Date Joined Jun 2008
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 6/20/2008 11:12 AM (GMT -6)   
Thanks for all of these responses. From what everyone has said and from what I've already known, obviously the best choice is just to refrain from the alcohol. Unfortunately, I'm affected by all kinds - beer, wine, liquor. If there was one culprit in particular, I would be happy to write it off and stick to the others, but they all seem to affect me equally.
 
I hope I didn't come off like some crazy booze-hound, it's just that being in your 20's in a city where every social event seems to revolve around alcohol it is sometimes difficult, not to mention just plain depressing to be the only stone cold sober one in the bunch. I really do keep my drinking to a minimum as much as I can...i say no to drinks all the time (which is inevitably followed by "what's wrong? why aren't you drinking?") I suppose it's something I'll just have to continue to live with. 
 
The preemptive Imodium really helps, my biggest fear is that I may be doing some kind of long-term damage that will surface later in life. My doctor has suggested in the past that it can't really hurt me, but when i end up taking it two days in a row, I get a little nervous. I guess that's something I will have to work on.
 
Thanks for everyone's imput!

Keriamon
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   Posted 6/20/2008 11:59 AM (GMT -6)   
<<it's just that being in your 20's in a city where every social event seems to revolve around alcohol it is sometimes difficult>>

I don't know the Irish found me rather interesting, sitting in a pub drinking a non-alcoholic drink. Lead to some good conversations, lol. And every year we go camping with our friends and pretty much everyone gets pretty drunk and I'm the one sober enough to laugh at all of them, LOL. They don't care that I don't drink. Although picking your friends can help. If the only thing you have in common with some of them is going out and getting plastered, then you need to ditch them. But if you can do other things with them and getting boozed up is only occasional (even among our friends, getting boozed is limited to one, rarely two nights during the course of an entire week), then it means you can have fun without drinking. Older friends help too; the older people get, the less they tend to drink because the rougher it is on them to recover from it! At the very least, going somewhere where people only have a couple of drinks makes it easy to decline.

Taking several Immodiums every day for months and months (years, even) is worrisome. Using them lightly off and on during the week is not likely to give you any problems, just as your doctor said. Immodiums slow down your digestive tract transit time, and over time, your body can slow itself down, resulting in a flip to constipation all the time. But it takes a lot of continual use of immodium to get that. Like I said, months at least, if not years of daily, heavy use. That you cycle on and off should be enough to keep your body from reacting to it by slowing down too much.

Have you tried the calcium pills? They soak up extra water in your intestines and so don't mess up your body permanently. Alone, they may not be enough, but they might help you lessen the amount of Immodium you take and they might work by themselves on the days that you are not so bad.

Marsky
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Date Joined Jul 2007
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   Posted 6/20/2008 12:12 PM (GMT -6)   
Not to beat a dead horse here, but have you tried eating yogurt before having drinks? I have a sister-in-law who vacationed in Italy a few years ago. She said everyone there recommends having a cup of yogurt before drinking wine. Not immediately but an hour or so. It coats the GI tract and apparently helps you absorb the alcohol better (not getting so drunk and also not having a bad hangover).

Bear in mind she has a normal colon, no GI issues whatsoever but now she has yogurt before socializing.

It does make sense to me.

Mary

NYtummy
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Date Joined Jun 2008
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 6/20/2008 1:12 PM (GMT -6)   
Oh no, I really have come off like a booze-hound! I have great friends, none of whom ever pressure me to drink. The goal is not to go out and get plastered, it's just that birthday parties, weddings, even work events usually involve alcohol and friends usually just feel badly for me that I have to sit that part out.
 
Anyway, I don't know anything about taking calcium pills, but I am open to all suggestions. The yogurt sounds like an interesting thing to try as well. I'll try anything as long as it is safe! Right now I don't take much medication. I take a daily acidophilus, have a prescription for hyociamine which i take on occasion but find it to be pretty useless, and I chew on a couple of bromelain when my stomach goes sour. And, of course, the Imodium.
 
 

7Lil
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Date Joined Apr 2005
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   Posted 6/20/2008 1:57 PM (GMT -6)   
Like Keri suggested, I wouldn't worry too much about taking the random Imodium pills weekly. It's the daily pills (more than just 1) a day that can cause damage. Our old mod, dbab, says her doc claims she got diverticulitis due to Imodium abuse. Who knows if that's true, but it's something to think about.
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Keriamon
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Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 2976
   Posted 6/20/2008 3:51 PM (GMT -6)   
Have I seen dbab lately? Don't tell me she's been gone for like a year and I haven't noticed.

If the hyoscamine doesn't work, ask your doctor to switch you to another anti-spasmodic. It seems they either work brilliantly or not at all. There are a number of different ones out there, so shop them around and see if you can find one that helps with the D.

Inape is our resident calcium expert. In a nutshell, get Caltrate 600 w/ vitamin D (or generic equivalent) and take 1-3 pills per day. Some people take one each meal. I take two before bed. Whatever seems to work for you.

NYtummy
New Member


Date Joined Jun 2008
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 6/20/2008 4:11 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks, Keriamon. I think i will try the calcium.  Just out of curiousity, do most people take hyosciamine daily? I was told just to take it on an as-needed basis but maybe if I were to take it daily it would have more of a noticable effect?

Keriamon
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Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 2976
   Posted 6/20/2008 5:33 PM (GMT -6)   
You can take it daily, but I don't think it is cumulative (i.e. builds up in the system and works better after a time). But you might try it for a week or two and see if anything improves. Theoretically your intestines are moving/spasaming too much and causing your food to pass through your digestive tract too fast, resulting in D. Taking it should theoretically stop those theoretical spasams and stop the D. So if you have D every day, you should take it every day.

Theoretical spasms because it's just a guess that's what's causing your D. You may have some other reason for having D. And it will theoretically work based on what I said before--some work for some people and don't work at all for others.

Cooper48
Regular Member


Date Joined Mar 2006
Total Posts : 31
   Posted 6/20/2008 9:01 PM (GMT -6)   
I am the exact opposite. I can only eat after having a drink of vodka. Alcohol is the only thing that will stop a very bad continuous bout of D. I go all day without eating and only eat after a few drinks. Whatever works.
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