can IBS-D symptoms be different for everyone??

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Regular Member

Date Joined May 2006
Total Posts : 164
   Posted 6/14/2006 7:21 AM (GMT -7)   
Hello all,
It's been a while since I've had a question.  Since I've posted last, I had an EGD done that let my GI doctor look down my stomach.  He found gastroesophogicial reflux disease.  He said it was minor but put me on Prilosec.  My appetite has got a little better since then.  He said it has nothing to do with my daily and constant diarrhea / loose stools.  (Needless to say, I'm glad he found the GERD.)  He also had me get a CT scan of the abdomen, pelvis, and fine cut views of the pancreas. (I had this done yesterday morning.)  He said that he thinks there is nothing there because all other tests have been perfectly normal which includes: stool cultures, blood tests, upper GI, small bowel series x-rays, colonoscopy, EGD, also no blood is found in my stools (had 3 hemocult tests), no celiac disease (they tested for it), no Crone's disease, the GI specialise found no ulcers in my colon, etc .  He basically had me do a CT scan so he could maybe CONVINCE me that it really is IBS-D.
I started to think about this and maybe somebody can help or have some insight to what's been driving me crazy for the past 3 months...
Can IBS be different for everybody?  I know that you can have IBS with diarrhea, constipation or even both that alternates.  I'm asking, can I have IBS with diarrhea WITHOUT pain and WITHOUT the bloating that are typical key symptoms of IBS?  Maybe it's just the way by body has IBS.  Besides, isn't IBS just a name that doctors give a GI condition that they can't find a physical or organic cause for?  (which is what is happening in my case so far.) No medicines have helped that my GI dr. has tried on me, including Librax and Levsin.
I also need to mention that I have suffered signifigant anxiety, stress and depression from this and afraid to eat wwhat I used to because sometimes, it looks like I'm not even digesting it. I cry a lot and worry CONSTANTLY that I have something really serious and maybe other people Dx with IBS feel the same way because they can't tell you exactly what's causing your constant abnormal stools. 
Basically, my question is, can I still have IBS with diarrhea that is associated with no pain (I just get the normal "I need to go right now" feeling) and no bloating? Foods do not seem to "trigger it" as a lot of people with IBS-D have.  It's just like every time I go, it's a loose/ diarrhea stool.  Sometimes, you can tell what I've eaten, especially tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, those kinds of foods (grose, I know, but we all suffer here).   Like IBS is known for, it does not wake me up at night.  I do, however, have to "go" about the first 5 minutes of waking up in the morning.  It DOES NOT disturb my sleep (Thank God).
I have lost weight (about 8-10 lbs. in the past 3 months) which I know weight loss is not a symptom of IBS.  I believe that this weight loss is not necessarily due to the diarrhea with IBS, I may only have D/ loose stools m aybe 1-4 times a day.  But I believe the weight loss / hair shedding is due to not eating right because my nerves are ALL WORKED up and I'm so anxious all of the time and I'm slightly depressed over all of this. I truly think this is where the weight loss is coming from.  (I'm approx. 5'3", 111 lbs. now...normally around 116-120 lbs.)
Hope somebody can help.

Post Edited (shelly1979) : 6/14/2006 8:32:04 AM (GMT-6)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 2976
   Posted 6/14/2006 10:37 AM (GMT -7)   
Yes, every person has different symptoms of IBS. Yes, it is a label they apply to bowel problems that otherwise have no known cause. While most IBS people do have some pain, some people do not. My bowel problems are caused by a lack of gall bladder and when I get diarrhea I rarely hurt. Just be glad you don't! Also, be aware that IBS symptoms change over time and you could start hurting or you could end up constipated or alternating or bloating or any of those other wonderful IBS symptoms. Personally, I don't bloat either. And most people seem to have diarrhea worse first thing in the morning, as you do, and don't have it in the middle of the night. And I have had some bouts of diarrhea where my food comes out looking only partially digested. I think this is because it just travels through the intestines too quckly to get digested.

Did they check your hormones and glands given your weight and hair loss? Some people with IBS-D lose weight, but that's generally a combination of the diarrhea all the time and going without food to avoid getting sick. I went to my gyno at one point complaining of hair loss and she said that sometimes women just shed hair; she'd done it before too. She did give me a complete hormone work-up, just to be safe, but it was all normal. Eventually it quit coming out and grew back in. Aloe vera shampoo is supposed to be good for your hair when it's doing that, as are scalp massages (give yourself a good rub to stimulate the hair folicles). The aloe vera supplements are supposed to be good for your hair too, but they are a natural laxative, so you should not take them.

And have you tried the calcium to see it it would stop your diarrhea? That's helped me and a lot of other IBS-Ders.

Regular Member

Date Joined May 2006
Total Posts : 164
   Posted 6/14/2006 10:48 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Keriamon,
I really appreciate your great advice.  You are truly a great and caring person!
Aboout the hair loss, I had my thyroid tested and all levels were normal.  I did, however, stop my birth control pill at the end of February and all of this daily diarrhea/loose stools started about 3-4 weeks after I stopped taking the birth control pill.  I started the birth control pill almost 3 weeks ago because I don't want to get pregnant while dealing with this BM problem since I've had to have x-rays and other tests.  I think the hair loss may be due to the shift in hormones due to stopping my birth control pill for about 3 months, then starting it again a few weeks ago.  Also, since I have had diarrhea, I haven't been eating near as much because everything gives me loose stools OR diarrhea.  My regular Dr. think I need more protein.  Also she said that stress may cause it too...I've had BAD anxiety over this because I have been thinking that I have cancer or something like that. (which the Dr. has not found anything wrong with any of my tests and assures me that I don'thave's just my mind running away with me.)  
SO do you think between the stress/anxiety, stopping and starting my birth control pill, and weight loss, that could be what's causing the hair loss?  I have a lot of hair, but I sure am noticing it getting thinner and I've clogged the bathtub drain a few times.  I'll try an aloe vera shampoo...have you heard anything about organic shampoos?  Could that help? 
I've tried Caltrate plus vitamin D.  It didn't seem to work much, but I didn't stick to it that long because I was on so many other things.  Now I am on Prilosec 20mg (for acid reflux) 1 time a day, a low dose of Xanax .25mg (3 times a day, to try to take the edge off of my anxiety), and my birth control pill.  I've also tried a multi vitamin.  I was drinking Ensure and Instant carnation breakfast and my GI specialist said not to do that because it can enduce diarhea.  He said I'd have to dilute it with water and that would just taste bad.  tongue  
So, I can have IBS-D even if I don't have the pain and bloating??  Also, IBS-D can last for months without 1 normal bowel movement?  I'd feel SOOO much better if I knew the answer to that question. 

Post Edited (shelly1979) : 6/14/2006 11:53:59 AM (GMT-6)

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2005
Total Posts : 51
   Posted 6/14/2006 11:47 AM (GMT -7)   

Hi Shelly

You're symptoms sound much like mine, except sometimes I do get painful cramps and gas pains.  I also have to go as soon as I wake up (which means, if I happen to wake up at 4 am, withing 5 minutes I'll have to go).  I also see some undigested food (like tomatoes).  They are probably as digested as they would have been if you didn't have diarrhea, but you just notice them more because there isn't hard stool to disguise them.  I've also had all the tests.  When did this all start for you? 

I am just coming through a bad week where I've gone numerous times and its extra stressful because I am 5 months pregnant. 

I also cannot tell if a food is a trigger or not - if I could I would surely stop eating it!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 2976
   Posted 6/14/2006 2:55 PM (GMT -7)   
I don't know why your dr. thought that Ensure or Carnation instant breakfast would make your diarrhea worse. I drank Carnations a lot when I had GB problems because they helped soothe my stomach; they made me feel better, not worse. Milk, however, isn't supposed to be very good for you if you have acid reflux because the fat in the milk makes you produce more acid to break it down, but I would think that skim milk wouldn't do that as much. Of course some doctors think that milk is a trigger food for all IBSers, but it's not. It certainly is for some--I'm guessing for about half--but not for everyone, so you just have to see if it does anything to you. The Carnation powders can always be mixed with soy or almond milk if you want to or have to avoid dairy. I think someone on here was saying that Ensure isn't actually made from milk in it anyways. All in all, the rule of thumb is: if it bothers you, quit consuming it. If it doesn't seem to make you any worse, have at it. If you didn't notice your diarrhea increase and nothing else worse happened while you were on the Ensure or Carnation, then I would keep at it, especially given that you are losing weight and need some calories. Why should you not eat something that doesn't bother you?

Yes, coming on and off BC can cause hormone changes that can do lots of things, including give you IBS. A lot of women on here notice that their periods make their IBS worse, so there is definitely a connection there. I think Lil was the one who went off her BC because the pill was actually making her IBS worse. You may have developed IBS because you came off your BC; maybe after you have been back on it a little while you will level back off. Some people do not react well at all to coming off hormones, especially if they are the older, higher-dose pills.

There is nothing written anywhere that says you get to have a reprieve from your diarrhea after so many weeks; some people just have it for weeks and even months on end. That's not abnormal for IBS. I had a bout that lasted everyday for 2 months. The calcium is what finally got me off the merry-go-round. If the calcium doesn't bother you and doesn't interact with anything that you're on now, give it a try again. It may take a few days or more to notice a difference. Take the full recommended dosage as well. At the very least, even if it doesn't help the diarrhea, you need the calcium, especially being on BC and wanting to eventually become pregnant, both of which can be bone-density depleters. And there is some evidence that calcium can heal erosions and inflammation in the intestinal lining, so it may help your stomach too.

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2006
Total Posts : 326
   Posted 6/15/2006 6:38 AM (GMT -7)   
Hi Shelly, Hi Keriamon, Hi M&M!

Thanks Keriamon for all of your great posts. My problem is much like Shelly's, so they help me out alot!

Shelly, glad to hear from ya' , but sorry you're not cured. Our problems are so similar it is amazing. And now M&M sounds like one of us, too. I am glad to hear you are being treated for the anxiety, as I think that has helped me alot. The therapist will help, also, if you feel like reading there are loads of books out there that give more info on anxiety and the big thing for me is they make me realize I'm not alone! Also, I take Ativan (a tranquilizer like Xanax) and that's been very helpful, too. I haven't lost any more weight in two months and I actually, on occassion, have had a normal poop. Ugg, not today, though.

I think Ensure is lactose free, so I wouldn't think it would hurt anything? My Grandma drinks it (and believe me, when I was losing all that weight, I was thinking about it, too) and she is lactose intolerant.

Shelly, I really think alot of my prob's are anxiety related. Sounds like with all of the major life changes that you've gone through lately that yours could be, too. I hope you start to feel better with treatment for anxiety. Also, the hair thing is just awful!!! Mine is falling out so badly that I am thinking of getting it cut really short (it's long, to the bottom of my back) just so I don't have to constantly see it all over the floor, sink, shower and especially the brush! I wonder if it could be the anxiety that made it fall out?

I am currently taking one Caltrate600D, .25mg Ativan 3Xday, Acidopholus, and eating white rice alot. Today I go see my GI doctor and I'm going to talk to him more about the stress/diarrhea connection.

Take care,
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