My first diagnosis/My symptoms now/Very confused

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Regular Member

Date Joined Jun 2006
Total Posts : 98
   Posted 7/14/2006 6:49 PM (GMT -7)   
 In 1991 I went to the doctor because my stools were narrow and sometimes ribbon shaped. Because it has been so long ago I cannot remember if I had any of the other symptoms of IBS. I was sent to have a colonoscopy to rule out any form of colorectal cancer. Every thing came back negative so the doctor diagnosed me with IBS. In the 15 years since then I cannot say that I have  had any of the other symptoms of IBS except the way stools pass changes: an urgent need to have a bowel movement (which I only have when I panic or have an anxiety attack), or feel that you haven't completely passed a stool.
 Now, 15 years later I am having LOTS of the symptoms.  The symptoms I am having now are:
mild, intermittent lower right quadrant and upper right quadrant pain (I thought the main symptom of IBS was more severe abdominal pain than that), the passage of mucous in my stool and really, really weird changes in my bowel habits.
 I am glad we can openly discuss bowel habits here because it is really quite embarrassing. But here is how it has gone for the past few days. First I cannot ever remember being constipated in my life but I was constipated for two days.  My doctor put me on Adderall XR which can cause constipation so I thought that was the cause.
 But then the next day my bowel pattern was back to normal so I didn't really think the constipation was caused by the medication. The next day I passes a lot of water mucous in the morning and did nothing else for the rest of the day.
 The next two days I was constipated again and passed small, hard stools with mucous on them. The next day started with constipation but in the evening I had a normal bm.
The next day I had no bm at all. I have never had this happen in my 48 years that I can remember. So to relieve the constipation I drank a lot of liquids and ate a can of spinach.
 It worked and today I started out constipated but ended up having lots and lots of bowel movements that got smaller and then ribbon shaped as the day went on.
 I am confused for three reasons:
First, I know that one of the symptoms of IBS is a change in bowel habits but these changes seem way out of that league. Have any of you ever had as weird a change in bowel habits as the ones I have described above?
Second, my diagnosis of IBS has been dormant for 15 years and I thought stress would cause IBS to flair up. However over those 15 years I have had much more severe stress/ anxiety and many other mental health problems than I do now. 
Has your IBS ever been dormant for many years even though you were under a lot of stress?
Third, and last, but not least I thought in order to have IBS you had to either have trouble with constipation, diarrhea or a combination of the both. I have none of those.
Confused in Utah,
I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said, "That cannot be true. You haven't met everyone yet!"

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 2976
   Posted 7/17/2006 7:54 AM (GMT -7)   
The pretty much only consistent symptom of IBS is messed up bowel movements; all other symptoms are secondary.  Some people have diarrhea all the time and never hurt.  The only symptom required to have IBS, that I am aware of, is abnormal bowel movements--and these can be either of abnormal frequency or shape or both.  Symptoms can change, but it's usually a good idea to go back to the doctor if your symptoms change radically since IBS can mask a lot of other problems, like ovarian cancer, appendicitis, gall bladder disease, acid reflux, etc.  And since you really haven't been rexamined in regards to your IBS in 15 years, it doesn't hurt to get looked at again, just to make sure you haven't developed anything else.  In all likelihood, your IBS is just shifting symptoms, but go to a doctor just in case.
First: Your bowel movements are very consistent with someone having IBS.  Like I said, people can switch up very quickly; some people even go from being constipated to having diarrhea or the other way around.  There doesn't have to be a reason why this change occurs; it just does. 
Second: I don't know what you have ever truly had "dormant" IBS.  The fact that your stools are irregular in shape, you feel like you haven't completely evacuated, and the need to rush to the bathroom are all symptoms of IBS.  You've just have a realitively mild case of it, sounds like.  And there's no rule that says stress = bowel problems.  But the longer you have stress, the more likely you are to develop bowel problems in the long run; it seems to cumulate after a while. 
Third: IBS includes as part of its diagnosis the feeling of needing to rush to the bathroom and the "not finished" feeling, along with abnormal-looking stools.  Those constitute having abnormal bowel movements, even if your movements are not watery or hard.  But it sounds like you are having problems with constipation right now (nothign about IBS says you have to have C or D every single day for it to count; a lot of people have some good days intermingled with some bad days).  Passing mucus is also a symptom. 
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