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Q&A on digestive health with Dr Sarah Brewer

(47 Posts)
HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 04-Mar-10 12:33:33

Hello. Have you got any questions about digestive health, digestive discomfort, probiotics, bloating, IBS? Yoghurt brand Activia has teamed up with Dr Sarah Brewer, GP and author to answer your questions about these issues - and more.

Dr Brewer is following this thread from today until March 11. Please post your questions here any time from now until then, and we'll post up Dr Brewer's answers a week or so later.

cyb Thu 04-Mar-10 17:03:00

OOh I'll go first (and can't be bothered to name change)

Sometimes my lower guts ,for the want of a better word, make the strangest noises.

We're not talking farts but deep, almost mewling sounds that are loud enough to hear by me and those around me.

Tis quite embarrassing. They do feel like they are coming from quite low down.

Any suggestions?

<oh! the shame!>

cocolepew Thu 04-Mar-10 17:05:44

Hi, what's the best thing for constipation? Obviously I'm asking for a friend <ahem>

cyb Thu 04-Mar-10 17:07:15

ooh get us and our bowels

cocolepew Thu 04-Mar-10 17:09:43

Oh I have another... my DH has diarrohea ^all the time^, he's been investigated but there's nothing untoward been found. It's not anything in particular that sets it off (apart from fatty food) but everytime he goes it's runny. He doesn't lose weight or has to run to the loo all the time in desperation, but can go up to 4 times daily.

cocolepew Thu 04-Mar-10 17:10:20

My friends cyb, my friends.

elliedodger Thu 04-Mar-10 17:12:50

I suffer with bloating and constipation due to IBS. Unless I have a stressful event coming up, in which case I have diarrhoea. I know that conventional advice is to increase fibre intake but that just makes my stomach unsettled and bloated.

Peppermint tea makes no difference whatsoever.

Can you give me any other advice?

Shitemum Thu 04-Mar-10 17:41:16

I followed a programme (Robert Gray) and diet to get rid of candida in the gut a few years back.
At the time, and since then, I saw references (and tmi photos) to build-up of solidified mucus or 'impacted matter' on the walls of the large intestine.

Advocates and practitioners of colonic cleansing all swear that we carry around various pounds of this stuff for years while there are also plenty of others, usually doctors, who says it is nonsense and they have never seen it in any autopsy etc. etc.

This leads me to wonder if the strange, ropey gunk that comes out when doing a proper, long-term cleanse is simply caused by the physillium seeds, or some other ingredient of the cleansing 'formulas' avaliable on the market, to make us think they are really effective or if this 'build-up' really exists.

So, does it or does it not?

Never has my username been more apt! grin

herbietea Thu 04-Mar-10 17:55:11

I have IBS too.

I take a probiotic tablet and drink Actimel everyday. Is there any evidence that these things work?

Shitemum Thu 04-Mar-10 18:21:09

{Actually sorry, but I think Actimel and similar products are a gimmick and the sugar in them doesn't do you any good. It feeds the 'bad bacteria' in your gut making things worse. Plain unsweetened yoghurt and a good quality acidopholous is better IMO}

MudandRoses Thu 04-Mar-10 18:43:34

I am suffering from upper stomach pain which I identify as acid indigestion, and am 12 wks pregnant. I've had it for the last 6 wks. I am on Omeprazole and it is helping but my doctor says my stomach will soon get used to it and start producing even more acid, which may mean I have even worse indigestion/reflux when I stop taking it. Should I continue? Is it usual to have this condition appear/worsen immediately in pregnancy? The pain (in my stomach and osophagus) was really bad before I started the pills, and I was surviving on bananas and oat crackers...I am worried about stopping.

MudandRoses Thu 04-Mar-10 18:46:53

Oh, and cocolepew both my DH and DS (4) have similar bowel habits to what you describe - very loose runny poo, and in DS's case, some times full of (sorry TMI alert!) what look like pale fat globules. Both of them are very lanky and skinny (DH especially), despite eating well - are their digestive systems just not absorbing fat/nutrients? Should I be worried?

Saladdays Thu 04-Mar-10 19:20:22

I'm up for a bit of bowel banter.

My dd has times of constipation that when she poos they are as wide as her calf. She cries, I wince. Any advice? This seems to coincide with teething??

I've been having twitching in my bowels that feels like a baby kicking - but I'm not pg. Wierd. Any ideas what it is?

FabIsDoingPrettyWell Thu 04-Mar-10 19:28:37

I have been tested for coeliac disease and it was negative. Months ago the GP suggested IBS. My problem is if I eat toast for breakfast pretty much straight away I need to use the bathroom. Yesterday I had a home made cheese tart and same thing. I look pregnant but I am 2 stone overweight. Just fed up with it all.

cocolepew Thu 04-Mar-10 19:43:46

Fab it could be wheat annoying you, I've had IBS for years and years and sometimes I need to cut back on the wheat (or maybe gluten?). Potatoes and certain makes of peas bloat me up a lot.

cyb Thu 04-Mar-10 19:51:14

Do you think we all might get prescribed with a case of Actima?

cocolepew Thu 04-Mar-10 19:54:28

Actima gives my mum and DH heartburn, I'll take the cash equivalent, thanks.

NorbertDentressangle Thu 04-Mar-10 19:59:48

Can IBS give similar symptoms to gall bladder problems ie. pain high up under the ribs and around to the mid back area lasting a day or two and then disappear again for a few months? (no change in bowel habits or irregularities during these episodes or any other time).

If so, how do you go about identifying what triggers it when nothing obvious springs to mind?

shhkeepitquiet Thu 04-Mar-10 20:16:17

testing name change

rubyslippers Thu 04-Mar-10 20:19:15

I have ulcerative colitis - have been told that there is nothing i can do except live with it - i am lucky in that it is fairly localised and not too severe i guess

would any dietary changes make any difference?

I am worried about my children having bowel issues - DD is 20 weeks old, EBF and her poos are permanently green and frothy so i am worried that she may have an issue

I am waiting for the results of a stool sample, but i can't help worrying - is colitis/crohns etc hereditary?


shhkeepitquiet Thu 04-Mar-10 20:21:13

ok it's about dh hence the name change. I am quite identifiable with my usual name.

Dh is diagnosed coeliac since a young baby (18 months). Apart from a couple of years in his teens (he is now in his 40s) he is very vigilant re his diet.

However his bowel habit is quite inconvenient and embarrassing at times. In the morning afaik he needs to use the loo around twice on a "normal" day. If we are on holiday, or he has eaten a large (gluten free breakfast) he will rush to the loo maybe 3-4 times. Then through the course of the morning and again after lunch he often has the urgency and need to go often several more times.

He has been checked out by a gastronenterologist (sp?) and NAD.

I think part (but not all) is slightly due to anxiety, i.e. on occasion he has unfortunately had accidents and understandably this make him feel the urgency even more.

I have suggested that at real times of pressure (e.g. if on holiday and going out for the morning) he could take imodium or equivalent - would this be ok?

Also, is it possible/likely that is bowel/muscles were damaged as he was so unwell when a small baby and this has continued? He was very malnourished and unwell as a small baby until diagnosis.

Thank you.

norksinmywaistband Thu 04-Mar-10 20:21:52

DD has been on 10ml daily lactulose for a year now, she still only passes a stool every 3 days which are very large and sometimes cause her pain. Any increase in the dose and she leaks. any less and she is agony.
Should I be seeking further assessment for other meds for her or leave her on the lactulose.
She has also been told by the dentist she has cavities and is awaiting treatment - do you think this could be linked?
She is 5

norksinmywaistband Thu 04-Mar-10 20:26:22

Also second issue blush is mine.
I have been told I have IBS. Urgently have to use every morning for a loose stool, get some bloating especially in the evenings.
My main problem however is travel - If I go more than 20 miles from home my bowels are terrible. constant diahorrea until I get home - even if just visiting family. It is a laughing joke that I can't take a change in the water. Is there a logical explanation?

moondog Thu 04-Mar-10 21:03:25

This Q&A is sponsored by the yoghurt brand Activia.
This Q&A is sponsored by the yoghurt brand Activia.
This Q&A is sponsored by the yoghurt brand Activia.
This Q&A is sponsored by the yoghurt brand Activia.

Nuff said.

The peopel who would have you beleive their nasty overpriced yoghurts cure all eveils.

moondog Thu 04-Mar-10 21:04:53

And isn't she the awful patronising woman on Radio 2 who is a supposed expert on everything from migrain to liver cancer?

No wait, surely I am confusing her with the Jill of all trades who pops up everywhere in cheap magazines, flogging vitamins.

Same difference.

SpawnChorus Thu 04-Mar-10 21:09:08

What are your thoughts on weaning babies at six months?

And why is baby poo yellow?

And why is it that I dodge the political webchats, yet I'm happy to talk shit?

Maratch Thu 04-Mar-10 21:39:05

I have been giving my DS a probiotic supplement (Optibac in powder form) - is there any evidence that this has benefits for his immune system / digestive health? Or is it just a total waste of money?!

hobnob57 Thu 04-Mar-10 21:52:48

Can pregnancy mess with your bowels? Since DD2 was born 3 months ago, I can't handle oats or nuts in my diet - the volume and frequency and aroma of gas produced is just blush and vile. I didn't have this problem pre-pg but I remember something similar after DD1. What is happening? I'm dairy and gluten-free ATM if that makes a difference due to DD's intolerances.

squeaver Thu 04-Mar-10 21:55:20

I have only one question: Martine McCutcheon? Really?

lisalisa Thu 04-Mar-10 22:20:50

Hi Dr Brewer

I would love to ask you a question please.

For the last six months I have been suffering episodes of extreme pain in my lower abdomen right side only. It is a stabbing pain like a needle going in and feels deep inside. It feels very much like wind and my whole stomach swells up and is very tender.

the episodes of pain last about 5 days and start slowly. By day 3 I am bedridden.

The first time this happened I was rushed to hospital in a blue light ambulance as I was crawling the walls with pain. They could find nothing wrong and the pain eventually subsided.

It returned again just 2 weeks ago and i suffered 5 days of intense pain which again took me out of my life and into bed with its severity. this time I was tested for ovarian cancer which thankfully came back negative.

I feel this may be diet related and wonder if you had any ideas please?

In between pain episodes I am pain free

tatt Thu 04-Mar-10 22:49:50

Hi Dr Brewer

My coeliac blood test was negative but if I miss any gluten I forget everything, lack energy, fall asleep after lunch and not surprisingly get very depressed. I've had 2 tests for bone density - one was lower than average but not realy bad, the other OK. Anything else that could cause those syptoms or should I be going back on gluten and asking for a biopsy?

ppeatfruit Fri 05-Mar-10 10:02:46

lisa lisa..iam not a doctor which means iam unbiased. Try giving up wheat of any type and see if there's an improvement.

If a child has a food intolerance, is it better to cut out that food completely until it no longer affects them, or to allow them to have it in moderation?

I'm particularly interested in dairy intolerance, as it affects my 3yo and my 7yo. I kept them on a strictly dairy-free diet for nearly 18m, before relaxing the diet. It is clear when they have had too much dairy, as their previous symptoms return, albeit more mildly than before. I'm not worried about their calcium intake, as I ensure they have calcium-fortified foods, as well as other, natural, sources of calcium.

Bucharest Fri 05-Mar-10 10:33:38

I was treated twice last year for h.pylori (first antibiotics didn't work) I haven't yet been retested, and the gastritis type pain is much less frequent, and I keep it under control with peppermint oil and gastrocote....

Does Manuka honey really (as told to me by a health food store bod) make all residue of the bacteria go away completely without the need for further antibs? Asking because my Gp said that current medical feeling is to try and treat the h pylori no more than twice, after which you just have to live with it....(do not, obviously wish it to develop into ulcers/stomach C further down the line!)

Miggsie Fri 05-Mar-10 11:54:37

Dr Brewer
I have a lot of gut problems that started recently.
I used to be a regular for bowel movements, once a day in the morning.
But now I go 4 or 5 times a day. Nothing particularly wrong with the actual motion, but it is so more frequent.
Second, often at night I feel like I really really want to do a poo, but I do not need to, but it still feels like I do.

I am also feeling nauseous for a lot of the time, today I am not even eating as the thought of food is making me feel quite ill.

I am not pregnant, but it really feels like something is pressing on my bowel and stomach all the time. My gut is making lots of gurgling noises and I am burping a lot as well.

I have tried various things such an ant acids and plant extracts for bowel movement but I can't honestly say I notice any difference from when I am taking and when I am not.

Can you explain the difference in activity on 'digestive health' between branded yoghurts and generic live yoghurt?

tabouleh Fri 05-Mar-10 21:47:21

moondog why are you so rude?

have you read the mumsnet onlinechat guidelines?

although perhaps you are also that rude to guests to your house hmm

I've reported your posts.

tatt Sat 06-Mar-10 09:02:30

Probably should have said that my gp ran a few other blood tests for things like aneamia and thyriod and they are all in normal range.

Coldhands Sun 07-Mar-10 08:10:14

I was diagnosed with IBS a few years ago and only recently tested for coeliac disease but nothing else has even been considered. Is this normal as I'm not convinced it is just IBS.

Get agonising pains, go to the toilet very quicky and can be on and off all evening. Stomach then feels very sore and tender. Often bleed from the back which clears up itself then starts again a while later. Stomach always makes very loud noises which is really embarrasing as the whole room will notice.

jalopy Sun 07-Mar-10 11:33:59

Have you advice on how to manage non-ulcer gastritis?

I'm a non smoker, don't drink alcohol, avoid spicy and acidic foods, eat a balanced, low fat diet, not on medication (apart from omeprazole - prescribed by gastroenterologist), have low caffeine intake and exercise regularly.

Despite this regime, I'm still very prone to flare ups. Have you any other suggestions?


MudandRoses Sun 07-Mar-10 21:46:57

rubyslippers my mum has ulcerative colitis. Diet makes a hige difference to her. She has to avoid things like coffee (tea is ok), coconut (high fibre irritates it I think), white bread...when she was first diagnosed it was much worse and she ate rye bread (avoiding wheat flour, I guess), but she is able to eat most things now, so it does settle down. Hope you're feeling ok!

hobnob57 Mon 08-Mar-10 14:21:38

Yes, yes, prettycandles' question re. childhood food intolerances. If they are exposed to foods they are intolerant of, is it actually harming them? DD1 seems to have a threshold for dairy, beyond which her face puffs up, her flatulence is embarrassing and the sore tummies begin again. DD2 seems to be intolerant of several thing in my diet (she is BF) which I haven't got to the bottom of yet, so is her digestive system being harmed in the meantime if she is gaining weight ok? Her dirty nappies are swimming in mucus...

Imustbenuts Wed 10-Mar-10 10:42:39

Re IBS: I read an article which said that it can be irritated by too much fibre and suggested eating oats. I sent the atricle to my mum, who has IBS, and she swapped her All Bran for porridge and the severity of her symptoms has reduced enormously.

On another note my OH says he has never known anyone with as much wind as me. I don't get pain or bloating but I do seem to have more wind than most. I eat a "normal" diet. Any suggestions?

posieparkerfuckityfuck Wed 10-Mar-10 10:46:22

My DH A member of my family is very stinky, terrible smelly blowoffs and poo that, quite frankly, fills the whole house with it's toxic odour. I think this is due to rotten guts through years of drinking too much. Am I right? What can be done?

emmap Wed 10-Mar-10 14:19:58

i get bloated every afternoon after lunch. every afternoon. doesnt matter what i eat, whether i fast, slowly etc. the next phase - ie, release of bloating, windy-style - are fairly high powered. why the bloating?!

CatherineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 11-Mar-10 11:45:49

Hi all, just to let you know that today is the last day for questions. Answers will be back up by Mon 22nd March.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 22-Mar-10 17:59:32

Hello, here are Sarah's answers.

Thanks to Sarah and to everyone who posted a question.

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