7 years of abdominal problems, still no diagnosis. Please help!

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Please pardon the long post - it's to provide as much insight into my problems with the hope of some help:

My problems started in 2011 at age 21 when I was a student at University. I lived the usual student lifestyle - a lot of drinking, smoking and unhealthy food. It sounds worse than it actually was. I also went to the gym very often and did mountain biking.

I went through a period where I was under SEVERE stress for about six months. I believe this is what triggered it all. I was out one night and had about three beers with my friends. Went to bed quite early and woke up in the middle of the night with the worst acid reflux I have ever encountered. It felt like my throat and stomach was on fire! Thereafter I had a permanent issue with acid - always had heartburn and discomfort in my stomach, mostly upper abdomen, but lower abdomen was also affected at the time. Could not wear any pants which were even slightly tight.

Long story short I was placed on PPI's, went for a Gastroscopy and the Dr said I had a hiatus hernia. A few months later I had a Nissen Fundoplication. A week after the surgery my old symptoms returned. The surgeon could not believe it. I was placed back on PPI's.

After about four years I left the PPI's and my symptoms were gone. I felt great, like a newborn child. This lasted around one and a half years. Woke up one Monday morning last year around February and ate some scrambled eggs. As I left my front door to head to the airport, I got this extreme burning sensation in my lower abdomen. Like the feeling you get when you have a stomach bug and you urgently need to run to the bathroom, but nothing came out. I was back on PPI's and it provided mild relief.

Eventually I developed diarrhea, on a daily basis. Alcohol, fatty and spicy food etc would worsen it, but even without alcohol and unhealthy food I had diarrhea. I also had constant stomach cramps, heartburn and a burning sensation on my lower abdomen area. Went to a gastroenterologist who did MANY tests. I had a gastroscopy, colonoscopy, CT scan, sonar, pill cam, barium test, many blood tests and stool tests.

Everything was pretty much clear. The only things were the gastroscopy showed mild to severe gastritis, quite a bit of bile present in my stomach and the stool tests showed my calprotectin was raised - first time it was around 100 and second time it was around 150.

The Dr just placed me on PPI's, gave me some digestive enzyme meds and sent me off. This provided some relief.

I am now off PPI's and on Ranitidine 300mg meds (Ultak), and drink a probiotic daily which was prescribed by my Dr. The diarrhea has turned to constipation, even though I still get diarrhea from time to time. My current symptoms are:

- Constipation mostly, with diarrhea now and then

- Feeling bloated

- Lots of gas, which mostly passes from the bottom due to the surgery I had

- Burning sensation in lower abdomen present for the most part of the day

- Irregular bowel movements

- Almost all the time it feels like I do not properly empty when going to the bathroom for a bowel movement (In the morning when I wake up I go, but it feels like I did not properly empty. A few minutes after I then eat, I have to go again, and it still feels like I did not properly empty)

- Due to the feeling / reality of not properly emptying, I feel bloated as well

- When I get bloated and gassy and keep in the passing of gas, it eventually turns into an emergency bathroom visit with diarrhea at times or just loose stools

- Mild heartburn from time to time

- Mild to moderate stomach discomfort

- Mild to moderate stomach cramps with sometimes sharp stabbing pains, especially when I lie on my back in the bed

- Sometimes I have some discomfort on the top right hand side of my abdomen

- A while back I was at the gym 5 - 6 times a week. During this period I got back pain in my middle back on the right side which got worse in the evenings and would get better when I get in bed at night, and disappear in the mornings

- Symptoms get worse on an empty stomach

I do still drink alcohol, but I have cut down on the amount. I eat mostly healthy and do drink quite a lot of water. I try and avoid coffee, soda etc. I still go to the gym, just less than before.

Sorry for the long post.

Any ideas what might cause this?

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10 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi WinniePoo

    A lot of strenuous and intense exercise can cause stress to your adrenal glands that sit on top of your kidneys and in turn produce high levels of cortisol hormone which can cause stomach and digestive problems. Ask your doctor to check your cortisol levels...then perhaps cut right down on the exercise or stop going and see if there is an improvement in your symptoms , but give it a few months.....

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  • Posted

    This is 95% og my story. Evry test you can think about is done. Hospital and i have gone through at least 15 doctors. One day should be the turning point. One doctor Said i dont now what og could be. Maybe bug, maybe something Else, but with do much pain i have to try or i have not helped you he Said. Even tough not a scope or blood test has showed nothing. He put me on the strongest antibiotics of Flagyl and amoxilin and some probiotics and losec. I can say that this was so strong and the side effects was so bad that the skin started to burn. He Said try to wait it out for those 10 days. I did. And i am so happy to say that one year has gone and i have not had one more problem. No reflux no burning stomach. Nothing. But my stomach was really bad for 2-3 months beacuse of the strong AB. Sorry for bad English. Im from Norway.
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  • Posted

    It may be a gastritis flare up,along with IBS since you have change of bowel habit with the stomach cramps.  If you have IBS, it will not show on scans.  Were you tested for h pylori and what was said about your high calprotectin result? Keep going back to your doctor; you will get answers  there.
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  • Posted

    Have they did any testing on your gallbladder? I had  Upper right pain when I had trouble with my gallbladder. And severe acid reflux. Everything hurt my stomach or gave me heartburn sad also has your dr did a stool sample? Stool sample testing for parasites, culture & c diff. It’s all worth a shot, since you’ve had so many other tests. With deadends! I hope you get answers very soon! 

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  • Posted

    Thanks for the replies! I realized there were a few things missing in my original post:

    I am a 28 year old male.

    1. I had been using antibiotics for acne for MANY years on and off. I used Purbac DS 960mg in high school for about two years. Left it and went back on it for about three years from 2014 when the acne got bad again. Then the Dr changed it to Doxycycline which I used for about 1.5 years and it worsened my symptoms. Then went back onto Purbac 480mg for about a year. Left it this year February. This might have also damaged stomach lining and bacteria.

    2. Checked my gallbladder and kidneys on the sonar - it was fine

    3. Tested for H.pylori and it was negative

    4. Raised Calproctectin of 150 was not alarming according to the Dr. He reckons around 500 is alarming and heads in the direction of an Inflammatory Bowel Disease like Crohns or UC.

    5. Did blood tests on liver and pancreas which came back clear

    6. No acid reflux detected on barium test

    7. Colon was clean as a whistle

    8. Pill cam was mostly clean - just showed some mild to moderate acid irritation around the duodenam area

    9. They tested many vitamin levels as well which came back clear

    10. Another one of my symptoms is sometimes nausea

    When I eventually went to my GP after all testing and no diagnosis form the gastroenterologist and asked for something lighter than PPI's as I have been on them for many years, she said it sounds like IBS to her. She prescribed the Ranitidine 300mg and a good probiotic and said I should see how it goes. If nothing gets better she will put me on IBS treatment.

    All of this really changed my life. The excessive gas is a big problem when I am at work. Holding it in through meetings and in the office becomes unbearing and many times leads to emergency visits to the bathroom with diarrhea at times. I do not feel comfortable to go out of my house on weekends - when I visit friends I always need to make sure there will be a bathroom close by with enough privacy for me to do my thing. Whenever I travel I need to plan it - can't risk sitting in traffic with stomach issues and I only travel with my own vehicle - cannot travel with others and suddenly have stomach issues - it's embarrassing. This causes relationship issues with my GF as well because she does not understand.

    I have a feeling it might be IBS - but there is always just that feeling that it might be something else. Maybe something more serious, or something simple that all the Dr's have been missing.

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    • Posted

      I wouldn’t continue on with the wait and see approach. I would explain to your doctor that your symptoms are embarrassing and that you would like to try IBS treatment to see if it improves things.  What you describe sounds like IBS.
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    • Posted

      You didn’t list having testing thru stool samples. Ask for stool culture, c diff testing & parasites! 

      I believe I got c diff thru antibiotic use. I was on doxycycline a lot. They were trying to treat my Rocky Mountain Spotted Tick Fever. Doxy is one of the antibiotics that can cause c diff. It wouldn’t hurt to get the stool testing done. With the c diff test it has to be loose stool or diarrhea. Or they can’t do the testing. 

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  • Posted

    I hope by now you are doing much better but somehow still felt the need to share my abdominal problems with you. Adhesions seemed to cause abdominal nightmares for me. All your symptoms plus. After years of suffering my surgeon did an exploration and found my colon adhered to my bladder. He removed a six inch portion of colon in September 2007 and haven't had a problem since. 

    I might also add a spleen removal due to a crash created a large scar. Maybe as long as 12 inches. After a long period of time the scar went bad and caused a great deal of pain. I mention this not knowing if you have and large scars. They can get infected, swell and cause pain and fever. I really hope that this may have helped you in some way. Best luck.

    Ron

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