Chronic but intermittent stomach cramps, bleeding + other symptoms, wondering whether to see doctor

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I'm an 18 y/o female who's had gut issues for pretty much my whole life, and I'm just wondering if I should get them checked out more seriously. Whenever I mention symptoms to my mum she says not to worry, and my doctor doesn't seem to bother either (though I only mentioned bloating and appetite to the doctor).

I've had random stomach cramps since I was younger, which my mum originally thought was chronic appendicitis, but I continued to have problems after an appendectomy at the age of 12. I've had intermittent stomach cramps with seemingly no cause since then, but in the last year or so I started having some other issues. I had no appetite or felt bloated when I woke up. I only ate one meal/2 small meals a day because I'd feel very full, even until the next day. The doctor thought it was hypothyroidism, because I was depressed and my thyroxine levels were down. However after 6 months, my levels were normal again and I still experience this. The lack of appetite is definitely a depression thing, but the bloating is still unexplained.

I've also had blood and excessive mucus in stools for as long as I can remember, but only occasionally. There is usually very little blood; it's only visible as a drop or small smear on the toilet paper, and I usually don't have pain. It isn't exactly bright red, it's more orange-y. Just red enough to show it's blood, but barely, if that makes sense? Sometimes there appears to be larger amounts of blood, but it is only visible in the toilet water and not on the paper or the actual stool. I can't tell if it's just the normal "cloud" you get when a stool hits the water, because the colour is on the fine line between red and brown (red enough to scare me though).

The problem is, I don't know if the signs are serious enough to warrant being checked, particularly because I've been having them for so long with seemingly no further problems. I'm very nervous around doctors and also have a host of other issues that could be causing these things. To give some more background:

> I have clinical anxiety, which I know can aggravate IBS or be comorbid with IBD (although I don't know whether I have IBS or IBD). As mentioned I have clinical depression, which causes appetite changes. I also have high-functioning Aspergers, and I'm told ASDs can be linked to GI problems.

> I know I am lactose intolerant, but my parents don't really care so we don't have milk substitutes in the house. Plus I have no self control and will take milk anyway with coffee and the like. Whenever I drink milk I get bad cramps.

> When I was quite young, I got badly constipated and ended up with a small anal tear. The wound healed but it sometimes reopens, and that could be the cause of the blood. Having said that, when it happens there is usually a sharp pain, and recently I have been seeing blood but not having pain.

> In the past few months or so I noticed a small squishy lump near my anus. It doesn't hurt, but I'm wondering if it could be a haemorrhoid?

> My grandma had a history of stomach ulcers. They were benign, just irritating. I don't know if ulcers are hereditary, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

> Again, my grandma had endometriosis, as did several of my aunts. One aunt had such a severe case that she coughed up tissue that was originally from her uterus. I myself have not been diagnosed with the condition, but have severe menstrual cramps to the point of nearly throwing up or fainting as well as iron-deficiency anaemia. I've read that IBS symptoms can be similar to endometriosis symptoms, so this is a consideration as well.

Thank you for reading through all this gross information, and if you think I should see a doctor, do you have tips on bringing this up with them in a way as least awkward as possible? I appreciate the help.

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  • Posted

    You need to see a doctor and describe all your symptoms, leaving nothing out otherwise your doctor will not have enough information to make an accurate diagnosis.  You must also mention the bleeding; this is very important.  It could be the result of a fissure or a haemorrhoid.  You did mention a tear and a lump near your anus.  If you are lactose intolerant, avoid milk and other dairy products.  Try the free from range as an alternative to ordinary milk..  IBD does cause bleeding.  You may need tests to rule out other conditions.  To distinguish IBS from IBD, you would need a fecal calprotectin test which looks for inflammation. If the result is very high, a colonoscopy is done to confirm if IBD is present.

    IBS is linked to anxiety, depression and food intolerance which can cause lack of appetite if foods are causing you problems.  It can make periods worse.  Endometriosis is not the same as IBS as it is a womb disease and you bleed with it. However, doctors can confuse the two because you can get bowel symptoms with endometriosis.

    I have IBS and Aspergers which was not picked up until I turned 40.  This has caused me to be highly anxious and no doubt led to IBS.  I am also severely phobic about doctors and react badly to any treatment that needs done.  It took a great deal of effort and panic to see my doctor about my stomach pain and my health anxiety and stress was out of control during the three and a half months it took to get answers,  Even though I avoid anything that causes me anxiety. I knew after two weeks of solid stomach pain, on off nausea, and constipation that I had to have it checked out.

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    • Posted

      Thanks so much for the long and detailed reply, I'll try and see someone as soon as possible. My anxiety at having a severe problem that could be progressing every second is slowly starting to outweigh the anxiety at going to the doctor. Thank you for the food recommendation as well, Free From is a Tesco range right? I'll look into it.

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    • Posted

      Getting answers from your doctor takes away the anxiety.  I had costochondritis (ribcage pain) several months before my IBS started.  It too was brought on by stress.  I thought I had pulled a muscle so I delayed going to the doctor because of anxiety.  The pain got worse over a three month period and in the end, panic drove me to the doctor.  I was diagnosed straight away and told that the pain would clear up within another month and it did. The relief was immediate.

      Free from is a Tesco range. Hope you get help.

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    • Posted

      I saw a doctor yesterday and she thinks I either have an h. pylori infection or, in a wild turn of events, a form of hepatitis. Blood test results are due to come back in a few days so fingers crossed that it's the former.

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    • Posted

      How did she test for h pylori?  Was it done by blood test, stool sample or breath test?  A stool sample, breath test and endoscopy are the most reliable methods for testing for h pylori. 
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