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I'm suffering with (= being annoyed by) a kind of low-level nuisancey thing and I veer between not worrying about it much and worrying about it a great deal. I'll do my best to sum it up concisely.
It's probably important to mention that none of these symptoms are new. They've been going on, on and off sometimes, for years. I went to my GP a few times about it, once five years ago, once three years ago, when I had blood and stool tests (all clear/normal), and once two years ago. My GP diagnosed IBS and sent me away with a flea in my ear and a leaflet. Since then I haven't bothered my GP because a) there's nothing red-flaggy happening; and b) nothing much has changed. It certainly hasn't got any worse.
Background: I'm a white male in my late 30s. I have generally good health, and don't smoke (at all) or drink (much). My diet is OK, although I could probably stand to eat a few more apples and a little less sugar and artificial sweeteners. I'm a stone or so overweight but I'm shifting it at the moment. I'm physically active.
I have no family history of anything much (certainly not digestive system cancers) and I am generally from robust stock. My dad does have IBS and a generally stress-sensitive digestive system, and experiences many of the same symptoms as me. Otherwise, my parents are both healthy, and in their 70s. My grandparents all lived into their mid 80s at least, and in two cases into their 100s.
I also suffer from fairly constant anxiety. I can usually cover it up and get on with my day. Sometimes - like now - I have health anxiety flare-ups where I worry that I am seriously ill. The anxiety started around the same time as the digestive symptoms; around six years ago.
Onto the physical symptoms... the main ones are mild to moderate bloating, gas and sometimes a grumbly abdomen, and a slightly loose stool. Occasionally I get very mild cramps in my abdomen. They move around and more often than not aren't there at all. The cramps and bloating are usually eased by going to the toilet, or exercising.
TMI warning... when I go to the loo, it all comes out a bit quick. I'm loose (ish) but not liquid. More like... pieces, but slightly mushy. If we were looking at a Bristol scale I'd be between 5 and 6. My stool tends to tint the toilet water a light, clear brown. Otherwise I'm very regular. I go to the loo within an hour of waking up, almost always once a day.
When I get the bloating and cramps, it tends to go on for a period of a few weeks or months. The stool looseness is a bit more of a consistent thing, although it does wax and wane. I do experience it more often than not, though.
That's pretty much it. There is no bleeding (I assume the loo water thing isn't blood, as it doesn't look either bright red or sticky black. It's... stool-coloured). My stool is a normal sort of colour and odour. I have no pain, ever. I do not feel ill. My friends tell me I look well. I have plenty of energy; I work out pretty hard at the gym 5 or 6 times a week, with weights and HIIT training.
I feel like it's IBS + diet related, but starting to pin down what might be causing it seems to be a Herculean task. I don't even know where to start. In my darker moments I worry that I have some nasty thing going on in my bowel. But the evidence doesn't seem to support that. I'm not in the age range, have no family history and indeed don't experience any of the key symptoms. What symptoms I do have aren't consistent. (Besides the looseness, but that could signify any one of 100s of things, right?)
I guess I'm posting here because I'm after some reassurance (thanks, health anxiety) that others experience similar things. As I say, in my rational moments I go; well, my dad has virtually the same thing, has done for decades - it's probably IBS or an intolerance. Digestive system problems seem to cover a wide spectrum of things, and as it's a complicated bodily function it's not always easy to get a resolution in a sub-10 minute GP appointment.
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