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IBS? Ulcerative colitis? Something worse?

(473 Posts)
Spinstar Sat 28-Mar-15 17:18:45

I'm 51 and keep getting recurrent bouts of diarrhoea that wake me from deep sleep in the early hours of the morning with an urgent need to 'go'. I think I've had about 5 episodes now since mid December and the latest two have been accompanied by upper abdominal acid-like pain.

At first, I thought it was just a bug I'd picked up but after a few episodes now, I'm wondering if it's something more? I've not had symptoms like this unless I've got a gastroenteritis bug but can't imagine one would recur like this for 3+ months now.

Could it be purely perimenopausal hormones? It doesn't seem to follow any pattern around my cycle (still menstruating but a bit less regularly and got a few other mild perimenopausal symptoms.)

I've had no blood in my stools and I've also had days when I've seemed fine again. I'm not losing weight and I'm still hungry although less so because of the pain and fear that I'll be up in the night. I'm no more stressed than I ever am and not at all prone to anything like anxiety or mood disorders.

Up until it started, I was largely eating a healthy vegetarian diet and more prone to constipation than diarrhoea. Now I can only eat the blandest foods and I'm still in pain and waking with diarrhoea but the diarrhoea isn't all that bad - ie it doesn't go on all day.

I've never had IBS or any allergies. I've always thought of myself as having a 'cast iron stomach' and it takes a lot to make me sick, although I've recently had a nasty flu/chest infection virus thing that hasn't fully cleared after 3 weeks. However, the diarrhoea and pain pre-dates this by months.

Does anyone recognise these symptoms? Why would I suddenly get something like this now? Does it sound like a bug picked up from somewhere and why would it recur but not persist daily all the time? I've been fine enough between bouts. Is it related to hormones and my age and nothing else?

The day before the first episode, we visited a NT place attached to a farm but didn't go to the farm part but I did have a cuppa at the cafe and the next day, had the first episode of early morning, explosive and urgent diarrhoea. However, if it were a bug picked up from the farm, wouldn't it persist rather than clear up and then recur?

I've looked on the internet as I want to rule out anything really nasty and I'm reluctant to see a GP as I don't want to initiate unnecessary investigations or a nebulous diagnosis of IBS, which i know many women get diagnosed with, when doctors have no other explanation. So that's why I've come on here to see if anyone goes, "Oh yeah. That's obviously....xxxxx"

SecretSpy Sat 28-Mar-15 17:21:39

ime ibs doesn't usually wake you up with urgency. Or cause epigastric pain.

so, I don't know what it is but I think a trip to the GP and sending off stool specimens would be a logical first step.

Indantherene Sat 28-Mar-15 22:16:13

You know you need to check this out. I know you want to hear oh yes it's just xyz but it's not normal.

OllyBJolly Sat 28-Mar-15 22:21:31

I've got ulcerative colitis, IBS and I'm menopausal. What you are describing is not usual so worth an investigation to rule anything else out.

You might have picked up a bacterial infection that needs a bit more help to get rid of. Put a stool sample into the GP and make an appt for the results

gobbin Sat 28-Mar-15 22:30:14

As it's been going on for a while you really should go to the doc. Never ignore back end issues. Investigations are never unnecessary, if you need them it's best to get more serious things ruled out.

MrsPinotGrigio Sun 29-Mar-15 08:47:00

Please see your GP, any changes in bowel habits need to be investigated.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sun 29-Mar-15 14:09:43

You sound very similar to me and I wish I had answers but I don't (I'm still in the dark myself)

I'm 48, vegetarian since 14yo. Non smoker/non drinker. 2DC.
Perimenopausal.

Gallbladder removed Oct2014 (the pain from that is different though) had a couple of colonoscopies (which ruled out anything malignant which I guess is your main worry).

I have daily diarrohea unless I'm dehydrated which is rare (I drink loads of water due to 'hot flushes' )

The past 4 days I've had the worst cramp, no idea why.

I was diagnosed forst with Ulcerative Colitis then Diverticular Disease but I'm still waiting for a follow up appointment (it was postponed from April to late June)

I''ve had a scan ( tablet+scan then another scan after a week) to check the bile duct. Not got the results yet.

Also had stool samples sent to hospital.

So : yes you DO need to get it checked. And find out if there is or isn't a problem. And if there's no medical treatment needed, what you need to do to ease it.
Though I find my bowels are (usually) fairly reliable, I go early morning and that's usually it till evening but I appreciate as I get older, it will get worse.
And I worry about malabsorbtion.

My GP told me to "Eat a healthy diet" . That's all the advice. hmm

I will ask to be refered to a dietician once I know what's up. There's a load of "Blanket Terms" that cover a load of conditions but the treatments aren't the same.

Thymeout Tue 31-Mar-15 15:24:27

I don't want to scare anyone, but IBS symptoms are easily confused with those of ovarian cancer. Change in bowel habits and reflux/heartburn in particular. Also bloating.

It's unusual for IBS to come on suddenly in middle age. Ov-ca is comparatively rare, but there are many women on the ov-ca sites who wasted a lot of time on GI investigations before being diagnosed. And the earlier the diagnosis, the better the outcome.

When you see your GP - just query it as a possibility to be ruled out. There is a bloodtest, Ca125, which is not totally reliable, but a good marker for some people.

bananaramadramallama Tue 31-Mar-15 15:37:12

Go to the Dr.

I had mainly side stomach pain (appendix area) and bloating, occasional mucous in stools but no blood, no weight loss - I was extensively investigated for any signs of gynae trouble and nothing found, so brushed off a bit by dr; eventually was diagnosed with Crohn's, so bad I needed surgery as soon as poss.

You don't necessarily have all the symptoms, and not even the 'classic' symptoms sometimes - but you have to keep pushing for investigations into both gynae & gastro problems as they are often dismissed as ibs or similar.

Agree with everyone else - go see Dr asap as it's not normal to experience what you are.

Boomf Tue 31-Mar-15 17:07:23

Why on earth wouldn't you see a doctor ? Just go for goodness sake! It could be absolutely anything

Spinstar Wed 01-Apr-15 18:52:10

Oh f* Not yet had time to book a GP appointment - working f/t and single mum. I am really scared that something might be wrong, as I have absolutely NOBODY to look after DCs if I'm needing lots of tests or worse - if I had to go into hospital.

I'm f/t self-employed and can rarely take time off work but from tomorrow, have a few days off but planned to do quality stuff with DCs who I need to spend some time with. They are early teens but one has some specific 'needs', neither has a social life and neither is capable of doing much/anything for themselves. I have coped alone from the start by refusing to let myself be ill and I just CAN'T be ill. They have no one else at all and rely on me for everything and always have done.

So I've been hoping the symptoms will go away. They're a bit better as in, no more diarrhoea but still waking in early hours with an urgent feeling to go to the loo - but managing now to ignore this and when I 'go' later, I'm more constipated than got diarrhoea.

Am eating only rice, bio yoghurt and eggs but feel really full after a small amount but might that be because I'm now constipated after such a non whole food diet for a while? I still don't know if this is all the tail-end of a nasty flu virus from 16 days ago and the other episodes of diarrhoea might be unconnected to each other?

Look, if there anything this could be that isn't something like ovarian cancer or other cancer? I just CANNOT, CANNOT be really ill, for the sake of the DCs.

hiccupgirl Wed 01-Apr-15 19:07:13

Please, please just go to the doctors and start the process off. I fully get you don't want to be ill but something isn't right and while it's far more likely it's nothing awful, if it is something that needs treating then the sooner the better.

I've been struggling with stomach pain, massive bloating episodes and stomach cramps for 7 months now. I've had an endoscopy which showed nothing and finally an ultrasound today which has shown a possible enlarged kidney which could be causing the problems. Now got to wait to be referred on to an urologist. I have lost 3 stone but mainly because when mine stomach flares up I live on rice cakes and chicken for 3-4 weeks at a time. It's bloody miserable. But I'm really glad I have been back to my GP 4 times now and pushed that telling me it's IBS and to eat a bland diet isn't enough. If I need an operation it's really crap time - I have a 5 yr old at school with no wrap round care, my DH is also unwell with chronic fatigue and I'm studying for a masters. But I can't carry on living in pain and blown up like a puffer fish!

moggiek Wed 01-Apr-15 22:13:21

Spinstar - sorry if this is very personal, but what colour is your poo when you go?

wannabestressfree Thu 02-Apr-15 07:40:34

I have Crohn's as well and in the nicest possible way you say you cannot be ill but I would assume being dead isn't an attractive proposition either? You really need to get checked. I rarely spend time in hospital now (due to having permanent bag) but had to except sometimes I needed to - I also have a special needs child + two others.

FabULouse Thu 02-Apr-15 08:48:41

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Boomf Thu 02-Apr-15 08:52:22

I kind of 'recognise' you ... ( not in real life I hasten to add! ) Did you have a dog too and twins?

I think it's your posting style .. Anyway, stop making things into a huge catastrophe and instead of just talking about it on here with folk who won't have a clue tbh, make an appointment. All of this ' I just CANT take one moment off ' is ridiculous talk really. See the doctor and see what's what

Sorry to sound harsh but you do sound a bit silly for a capable 51 year old woman

Spinstar Thu 02-Apr-15 09:09:26

Have plucked up courage and called the doctors but the earliest appointment is for next Thursday, which I've booked. Maybe it'll all be better by then.

Meanwhile, got no appetite and feel dizzy but forced myself to eat scrambled egg on toast but now got worse stomach pain. Really fed up. DCs are rearing to go and expecting a happy holiday mum and I could happily go back to bed. One DC is a real worrier and he's already picked up that there's something wrong.

Will just have to cope.

MrsPinotGrigio Thu 02-Apr-15 10:06:46

I had symptoms very similar to yours - pain, loss of appetite, constipation followed by diarrhoea & terrible nausea & acid reflux. I was told I had IBS for years following tests, turned out I have Crohns. I'm now recovering from surgery to remove a narrowed part of my bowel after 2 massive flare ups in 3 years. Please tell your GP all your symptoms & ask for a referral to a GI consultant. The tests aren't pleasant but it is best to rule out IBD (Crohns or Ulcerative Colitis) & both can be controlled with medication in the first instance.

Try to eat small amounts & often. It may be better to stick to soft food - plain roast chicken & boiled rice is my staple if I'm ill plus cheese omelette for breakfast & lunch. Mashed potato as well is usually ok - my sister calls it 'the White food diet'. Try to drink plenty of water & avoid caffeine & fizzy drinks. Good luck & hope you feel better soon flowers

Darthsloth Thu 02-Apr-15 14:06:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Spinstar Thu 02-Apr-15 19:13:24

I managed to find and see a private GP today (never done that kind of thing before) as my symptoms got worse. He took blood did the usual examinations and wants a stool sample on Tuesday after the Bank Hol and has said in the NHS, I'd be fast tracked and that if we get these tests done asap, then that's going to speed up the process.

I must admit to feeling terrified. He said that colonic cancer usually presents as alternating symptoms of diarrhoea and then constipation and then normal and then diarrhoea etc etc and he clearly hadn't 'heard' that this is exactly how it's been for me since December now. He felt my symptoms were gastric/colon and not related to flu nor likely to be ovarian cancer as they were so obviously stomach related.

He suggested I might be bleeding internally without knowing it and of course I immediately concluded that this is why I feel weak and dizzy now - but that could be lack of food too I guess.

My blood pressure was normal but I had a slightly high temperature - which I hadn't realised. Would that indicate anything more in the 'wrong' direction?

He says I'll need a colonoscopy asap, probably within 2 weeks. So how do you manage the wait? How do I hide this from the DCs who already know something is wrong and are also upset that their Easter hol is ruined by my ill health?

Tonight I feel too sick to eat anything but am trying to drink weak sugary tea as I think I need sugar and salt for my electrolyte balance? How on earth am I going to do all the planned stuff with my DCs that we've all been looking forward to if I can't eat and get weaker and what the heck do I do if I collapse? Should I remind the DCs re. calling 999 or would that be unnecessarily worrying them?

If anyone's got experience of managing DCs as a single parent with no family back up - in the midst of illness that isn't currently getting any better and the cause unknown - how did you do it?

So with all the possible things this might turn out to be, are most cure-able or only 'manageable'? I can't even imagine coping with my current demanding life and being ill too. That equation doesn't work at all.

Can someone tell me more about their experience of things like Crohns and ulcerative colitis?

The only 'positive' thing the doctor mentioned was maybe it could be something like salmonella. I am 'longing' for this to be the case - something that isn't part of my body going wrong but a discrete 'thing' that I expect could be fixed.

wannabestressfree Fri 03-Apr-15 10:38:38

Honestly how do I do it? I just get on with it. I have severe Crohns, short bowel, vitamin deficency, a stoma, three para stomal hernias etc. I have three sons (one with ASD and mental health problems) and live alone. Just be kind to yourself. Yesterday (as I have a head cold) I played logo and monopoly and we vegged. You have to listen to your body.
If my temp is raised it indicated infection. You need to take one small step at a time and not overthink this. My nerves would be shredded if I worried about 'what ifs' all the time. Eat what you can manage - someone said plain food - a low risidual diet. That's what I do if I feel poorly. Drink lots.
I would avoid the whole ambulance thing as it sounds like it's being dealt with. Unfortunately crohns and colitis are painful conditions and I take permanent pain killers (codeine) and see the pain team. Crohns affects everything, eyes, joints, my ability to swallow BUT I work full time and take care of my boys as i reckon these things keep me going. I don't dwell on the other things too long. I also have a nurse come to the house once a week.
The equation does work it's about your mindset and my illness doesn't shape who I am. It's just part of me.

Spinstar Fri 03-Apr-15 12:11:54

Thanks for sharing all this wannabe. You sound like you're doing a fantastic job and give me hope. It's the not knowing what's wrong that's the worst part.

Today I feel more ill and think I've got a headache, high temperature and am alternately flushed and hot/sweaty or shivering and ice cold. Could only eat one piece of marmite toast so far and drink water and don't really want to eat or drink at all as I feel increasingly nauseous but haven't been sick.

Still going to the loo. Only slept 2 hours and woke around 1.30am feeling really not OK at all.

Have tried to act normal for the DCs but have today told them sensible details about accessing money and what to do if I start to be unresponsive. One is v withdrawn and quiet and the other withdrawn and angry. Am about to try and make their lunch and am aware we have little food in house and I need to wash their clothes etc etc.

Feel really 'unwell' in a v unusual way for me - like shaking and pain in lower leg and agitated feeling which I've never experienced before - along with all the other symptoms from before.

Debated whether to call the doctor I saw yesterday or just wait and see how things go. Have found out I actually lost 5 pounds in weight since 12 days ago which is v v unusual for me and I've never not had an appetite before, even when I've had a vomiting bug.

How on earth will I manage ordinary life if it's going to be at least 2 to 3 more weeks before anyone has any idea what's wrong? If I continue not to be able to eat and to lose weight, that alone is going to make me really ill. Quite worried.

Darthsloth Fri 03-Apr-15 13:32:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

wannabestressfree Fri 03-Apr-15 18:09:37

In reality though going to the loo needs to be 15+ for over a week to warrant hospitalisation (a day). When I am really poorly and pre bag I could go 30+ a day sad
I would just alter what you are eating. Avoid diary- it makes me ill and eat white carbs.

SirVixofVixHall Fri 03-Apr-15 18:24:26

I hate to say this but to me it sounds as though you need to be seen by someone, can you call the out of hours GP? Do you have anyone at all who could take care of your children if you have to go to A+E, or a friend who could drive you all there? If you have anyone who would come and stay overnight tonight then I think that would be a good idea, but call out of hours and see if a gP will come to you. Feel worried about you, I hope that it all gets sorted out soon. flowers

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