Is This really IBS??

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New Member

Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 4/29/2006 6:02 PM (GMT -7)   
I was just recently referred to this site by a friend who said that it might help me to understand better what I am going through.
A few years ago I was diagnosed with IBS.  Recently I started having more frequent episodes (or attacks as I call them).  I would like to explain what happens to me and see if anyone else has the same things happen to them.
This is what an episode consists of for me.  All of a sudden I will get the usual feeling of having to have a bowl movement.  Without warning it will turn into severe cramping and I am stuck on the toilet for at least 20 minutes with excrutiating cramps so bad that I am moaning and crying in pain.  If you are a woman the best way to describe it is like being in labour.  It gets to the point where my bowel movements are coming out like water.  I break out in a sweat and sometimes feel that I am going to pass out from the pain.  I realize that I am bringing on a panic attack because of experiencing this before and knowing what I will be going through.  My doctor has prescribed attivan for the anxiety but what about the pain.  Does anyone else experience any of these symtoms?  It would be great to hear from you to know that I am normal and it really is IBS or the doctors just don't know what else to call it.
Please reply...I feel like I'm going to go out of my mind.  I'm 37 years old with 3 small children and I need to get this under control.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 3269
   Posted 4/29/2006 8:46 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi lagace1,
Welcome to HealingWell! :-)
Cramps are extremely common with IBS... You will find that many of us here get them. Have you spoken to your doctor about antispasmodics? A few of us here also use a heating pad to help soothe the pain... Have you tried that yet?
As for us knowing if you have IBS, that is hard to say. What sort of tests have you had for your doc to conclude it is IBS?
Sometimes the weekends are kind of slow, so don't be discouraged if you don't get many replies right away.
Take care.
Co-Moderator for the IBS Forum
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Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2004
Total Posts : 4151
   Posted 4/29/2006 9:54 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi lagace... Welcome :)

I can relate to your symptoms as I have gone through them just like that. The cramping would sometimes get really bad for me that I am also doubling over and would sometimes get nausea and vomiting. Also get really antsy when the "wave" would hit because you don't know if you can get in some kind of position that would ease the pain a bit. I agree with Lil about asking for the antispasmodic. I take them and feel that they can work quickly (I usually will chew it for a faster effect). Heating pads as well like Lil said help me tremendously. I hope you keep posting as we all have found just having somewhere to go where people can relate helps.

I also have anxiety disorder and the IBS can play off it and vice versa. Its pretty much a vicious cycle.

Take Care
Hugs, Des
Co-Moderator ~ IBS Forum
Dx: IBS 1989, Diverticulosis 2004, UC 2005, Sjogren's 2006
Meds: Sulfazine EC 1000mg, Mesalamine Enemas, Chlorzoxazone 500mg, Naprosyn 500mg, Symax SL .125mg, Protonix 40mg, Xanax XR 2mg, Miralax 17g, Supplements
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New Member

Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 4/30/2006 6:10 AM (GMT -7)   
7lil and dbab:

Thank you for your responses, it does help to here from someone else who is experiencing the same problems. Although, I don't wish this pain on anyone. I had a colonoscopy done a few years ago and ultrasound etc. I used to only get the episodes about once every couple of months but just recently it has started to be more frequent. I am now scheduled for another colonoscopy in a couple of weeks. In the mean time they have given me a pill call buscopan to take a half hour before each meal. Has anyone else had any experience with this?

Regular Member

Date Joined Feb 2006
Total Posts : 23
   Posted 4/30/2006 9:59 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi legace,
           I, too, had horrible cramps with my IBS.  Mine now seem to come at regular intervals of cramping and whenever I violate the "don't eat that" dictate.  The antispasmodics do help but I do without them because it took my "3 minute warning" away and I soiled myself a great deal more regularly.  I no longer have agonizing pain with this aspect of IBS but I do have a greater feeling of urgency and ensuing panic state regarding possible embarassment, esp. in public.  Hope this helps you to know you are not alone and that you can get to a place where you can live with this horrid disorder.  Good luck!  chesswoman

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 1362
   Posted 5/1/2006 6:33 AM (GMT -7)   
The ativan is probably a good drug for you to be on short term. It not only helps with the anxiety that comes with panic attacks, but it also relaxes the smooth muscles of the digestive system, so maybe that will help with the cramping? Good luck on your scope, and I hope you start to feel better soon. Take care.
"Of one thing I am certain, the body is not the measure of healing - peace is the measure. ~George Melton~"

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 2976
   Posted 5/1/2006 2:09 PM (GMT -7)   
Do you cramp a long time before you have a bowel movement, or do you start to cramp and have to run to the bathroom and then sit there cramping and having diarrhea? What color and consistency are your stools? Are you worse in the morning or do you sometimes wake up in the middle of the night sick too? Do you have normal bowel movements when you aren't having an attack? Do your bowel movements--especially when you are having an attack--stink more than is normal?

You might want to get tested for food allergies before you go through another colonoscopy. They can bring about cramping and diarrhea and if you keep eating what you're allergic too, it can make you more and more sensitive and make you have more frequent reactions. But then I am biased against colonoscopies, having had a pointless one once before and having narrowly missed having a second pointless one. But I knew what was wrong with me the first time--gall bladder--and I knew the second time that I wasn't sick enough to even suspect an IBD, which is the only thing my symptoms even remotely resemebled; so I had a pretty good reason to forgo the second colonoscopy. I wasn't so sick the second time as you are now. But I did have episodes pretty much like yours when I had my bad gall bladder. They can be hard to tell apart sometimes, gall bladders and IBS.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2005
Total Posts : 2486
   Posted 5/1/2006 5:54 PM (GMT -7)   
The scope might reveal something, but probably not if you've had a normal scope fairly recently.  You should get a stool culture and ova/parasite tests done, especially if you've done any sort of international travel in the past few years.  When I had a nasty parasitic infestation I had the worst cramps imagineable combined with diarrhea that was completely uncontrollable.  You might just want to get that checked.  Also Keri's suggestion with the food allergy testing is a good one, although food allergy testing is somewhat unreliable; but a lactose breath test wouldn't be a bad idea.  Or cut out the dairy for two weeks - all dairy, meaning you have to read ingredients very, very carefully - to see what that does for you.

New Member

Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 5/2/2006 8:45 AM (GMT -7)   

No I do not cramp long before a bowl movement, it just starts and I run to the bathroom and then sit there cramping and having diarrhea. The color is usually a yellowish colar and is very loose, eventually turning to basically brownish yellow liquid. I actually feel like I am having explosions going off in my bowels and then it comes. I don't have a usual time when it happens, but is does happen sometimes during the night waking me from a dead sleep.

Thank you to everyone for your replies. It really does help to talk to other people and here there stories and advice.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 2976
   Posted 5/2/2006 10:13 AM (GMT -7)   
It's probably not your gall bladder causing a problem. While getting up in the middle of the night is not real common with IBS, there are several people here who are like you--up in the middle of the night, needing to go. Getting up in the middle of the night with a bad gall bladder is pretty common, but I hurt and hurt and hurt before I ever had a bowel movement--at least a half hour or more. And a lot of people with IBS have yellowish stools. The only difference that I can tell between the two is that bile diarrhea--caused by bad gall bladders--becomes progressively more yellow until it's the color of really bright daffodils. And the more you poop of it, the worse it burns. If it's not really bright yellow and you don't really burn, then that's normal diarrhea with just normal amounts of bile in it.

Have you read the posts about taking calcium to stave off diarrhea? Caltrate 600 w/ Vitamin D is the recommended brand. The calcium formula in it has a constipating effect. I have also read that calcium can help soothe and heal irritations of the intestinal lining that can be caused by excess bile, food intolerances, bad bacteria, etc. and I know an irritated lining can cause pain. Last summer I suddenly came down with very painful, daily diarrhea--that's why I got on this site--and I tried the calcium route (at first with yogurt) and I quit hurting and quit having diarrhea. When I stopped the yogurt, the diarrhea came back but thankfully the pain did not. I switched over to calcium supplements and am good to go (along with a medicine I take because I don't have a gall bladder); no more diarrhea or pain. I think I irritated my intestinal lining when I had a bad bout of bile diarrhea following eating too much pizza without taking my gall bladder medicine, and right after that I accidently consumed some sugar alcohol, which I think I'm allergic to because 1 gram lays me up in the bed for two solid days. After those two back-to-back episodes, I couldn't get right again until I took the calcium.

By the way, don't ever consume anything with sugar alcohols in it. These are almost exclusively found in sugar free products and in a lot of low-sugar and no sugar added products as well (ice cream, cookies, Slim Fast Optima snack and meal replacement bars, mints, chewing gum etc.). Sugar alcohols give regular people gas, cramps and diarrhea; for someone with IBS they can be a real killer. And then in some cases a person's IBS is nothing more than an intolerance to sugar alcohols; get rid of them and the person suddenly has no more bowel problems. Sugar alcohols are always broken out under the sugars listing on the nutrition label, or you can find them in the ingredient list--they end in -itol. Common ones are sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol. And if you consume a lot of sugar substitutes, you might try eliminating them as well. I don't have a problem with any of the calorie-free sugar substitutes, but some people on here are intolerant to one or more of them and they can cause problems similar to yours.

In fact, you might want to try and keep a food journal and write down everything you eat and when and every bowel problem--including pain and gas--that you have and when. This can sometimes help you see a connection between certain foods and problems. A good place to start is to try and make all your food from scratch because preservatives--in addition to fake sugars and fake a lot of other things--sometimes set people off. Then it makes it easier to see if any particular food sets you off. If your Betty Crocker hash browns set you off, was it the potatoes or the preservatives in them that bothered you? If you make has browns from scratch, you'll know that either potatoes are fine for you or they are not fine. It's also a LOT easier to isolate the things that bother you when you make from scratch because processed foods contain little amounts of just about everything. If you have a milk allergy, for instance (not just lactose intolerence), then you are hard-pressed to find packaged goods that don't contain caesin, which is a milk protein that can aggrevate people with a dairy allergy. And people who are intolerant to wheat also have a hard time getting products that don't have a wheat by-product hidden in them somewhere.

New Member

Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 6
   Posted 5/2/2006 3:03 PM (GMT -7)   
I went to see me doctor again today and he says that he is certain that it is my IBS acting up. He gave me a perscription for Librax. Has anyone had this medication before? I am to take one every morning for the next 5 days and see how it helps. In the meantime I am still scheduled for another colonoscopy to confirm my diagnosis. The last one I had was about 10 years ago when I was first told that I had IBS.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 2976
   Posted 5/3/2006 7:18 AM (GMT -7)   
I haven't heard of it before, but I looked it up online and it says that it is an antianxiety medicine combined with an antispasmodic. Sounds like something that would be good for IBS since anxiety and stress make IBS symptoms worse and pain and diarrhea are often caused by the colon spasaming.

But it does interact with a lot of things, including antacids, antihistiamines, cough syrup with alcohol (which is about the only kind that works), sleeping pills and a number of prescription meds. It looks to have the usual side affects of a drug that affects the brain, including dizziness, nausea, hallucinations and it can be habit forming, so you're not to take any more than prescribed.

Personally, I'd rather try something with fewer side affects first--the calcium, for instance--and see if that will work just as well. That and try food elimination or an allergy test to see if it's related to that (an article dbab recently posted said that the new theory is that stress can sensitize the intestines and cause people to suddenly develop food intolerances and allergies) Since this drug is habit forming, it's not going to be something you can stay on for any length of time, so what are you going to use when you can't take it and you're still having problems?--A good question to ask your doctor. IBS, unfortunately, is usually something that happens most every day, just in varying degrees. A short term fix will certainly leave you feeling better, but I'm afraid you're going to wind up right back where you are now in a very short amount of time.

But, it is good to know that there is something out there for people who can't take or get no relief from other things. It's just a shame it can't be used long term.
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