Help me make my stomach happy.
June 14, 2006 6:42 PM   Subscribe

GastrointestinalFilter: My body disagrees with EVERYTHING. (warning: a lickle nasty)

I've been wondering what it is for a while now.

I've grown used to it enough that I can "tell" when things are going to disagree with me, even if I don't know what exactly it is (as long as I know the contents).

After eating a bunch of things, if I'm offered a yogurt, or a sausage, or what have you, I know automatically, "no, I'll vomit." Or at least those tasty mouth-vomits that make you feel oh-so-good.

Everything gives me gas. It's not so bad that I can't do things (it doesn't necessarily obstruct my ability to socialise), but I seem to be in a perpetual on-off state of farting or waiting until I fart again.

I've determined by now that one thing may be a growing lactose-intolerance. I used to love milk, then every time I drank it, I got sick to my stomach. I seem to still be able to stomach some amount of dairy-products, but this is a problem for me. I love cheese on my pasta so when I do eat it (masochistically I suppose), I do get...uncomfortable afterwards.

Sometimes my stomach just feels like it's in a knot. And I especially seem to have trouble eating just about anything right after I wake up (more in the middle of the day than the morning), even when I feel extremely hungry.

That's another thing: I'm always hungry. Always. And I'm skinny as can be (125 pounds-ish...pale. got a mental image?). Granted--I'm a teenager, but I think my symptoms go beyond an unquenchable adolescent thirst for sustenance. I eat a whole plate of pasta--I want more. A slab or two of swordfish. More. If I don't eat more, I can't fight the hunger. If I satisfy the 'urge,' I feel like shit afterwards.

Speaking of shit--one thing I rarely if ever have, however, is diarrhea or anything like that. Always clean, easy...concise.

It's a goddamned vicious cycle and I'm convinced I have to "have" something. Even if it's a genetic defect, I want to know what the hell it is. Food is always, always a problem. Maybe it is "just me." But damned if I'm not curious (ps: sorry for the length).

Final note: no, I have not yet been to a doctor (I mentioned it once in a routine checkup, to no avail). It's bothered me enough that I've decided I'll go sometime soon, but I just want to pick mefi's brain for a bit.
posted by Lockeownzj00 to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

from likely to less likely and also from not so bad to awful
posted by caddis at 6:59 PM on June 14, 2006

About the gas, do you eat a lot of garlic? Garlic does it for me.
posted by necessitas at 7:00 PM on June 14, 2006

I had a room-mate who had similar symptoms to yours. He didn't tell me at first and I thought his constant gas was just being childish, but it was something he couldn't really control. He had special pills that helped and he had to restrict his diet. I never asked him whether the pills were just to cover the symptoms or to prevent further health issues. I would surely look into getting it checked out.
posted by Hypharse at 7:01 PM on June 14, 2006

Have you tried cutting dairy out completely for a period of time? Then you can at least see if that is the major cause of your discomfort.
posted by chiababe at 7:02 PM on June 14, 2006

Exercise more! Eat, but don't binge, you dumbass! Avoid dairy! Stop telling yourself that you'll vomit! See a doctor!

These questions are great.
posted by trevyn at 7:15 PM on June 14, 2006

This actually sounds a bit like my boyfriend when he was a teenager. He eventually found out he was allergic to dairy, and that caused the gas and general nausea. He was also really hungry, he would eat an entire pizza by himself. He was also pretty skinny.

Anyway, he cut out the diary, and now doesn't get the nausea or the gas unless he cheats. Also, before when he drank beer he had the same symptoms, but now it's ok. I second just cutting out dairy and seeing if that helps. Remember that a lot of things are made with milk or butter, so you're probably eating a lot more dairy now than you think you are anyways.
posted by orangskye at 7:20 PM on June 14, 2006

Lactaid tablets are available with no prescription. They're the enzyme that lactose-intolerant people lack and they're labeled as a supplement. They seem to be quite safe. I diagnosed myself recently and have been using them. It's an easy thing to try.
posted by theora55 at 7:31 PM on June 14, 2006

when he drank beer he had the same symptoms

Dairy, or at least lactose, crops up in places you wouldn't expect it, including some beers.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:32 PM on June 14, 2006

Teenagers eat that much and never feel hungry. I'd eat 4 or more meals a day at that age. Enjoy it while it lasts.
posted by GuyZero at 7:37 PM on June 14, 2006

Celiac is gluten senstivity (wheat, etc.) but damage from gluten exposure in undiagnosed patients can sometimes cause lactose intolerance.
posted by peep at 7:39 PM on June 14, 2006

Sounds like more than just a problem with dairy. The constant hunger is something to look into. I go through periods where I'm hungry all the damn time and never seem to be full. Had my thyroid checked but it's fine.

My intestinal problems began after a trip to Honduras 10 years ago. I've never been the same.

Get checked for a tapeworm or other lovely thing.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 7:45 PM on June 14, 2006

Please see a doctor about it. My father had a lot of weird gastrointestinal problems that were consistently misdiagnosed (ulcer, acid reflux, lactose allergy) for years. It was finally discovered that he had a strangulating hernia -- but he almost lost his stomach (not to mention his life) before this was figured out.

Not trying to panic you, but it sounds like your problem has sort of a broad spectrum -- in other words, this probably isn't a simple allergy -- and some concerning effects. Do check it out thoroughly.
posted by Miko at 8:13 PM on June 14, 2006

Sounds a bit like lactose intolerance to me, but IANAD. I'd
treat this problem scientifically - cut out different foods, record carefully what/when you eat and how you feel every couple of hours. You're already pretty aware of your body, which is good. Then talk to a good doctor (one who doesn't dismiss serious concerns!) who can recommend a specialist.

Best of luck.
posted by muddgirl at 8:13 PM on June 14, 2006

Chiababe: i've tried, admittedly half-heartedly, before. But it seems to be in everything. Maybe I'm in denial, but do I really have to think about it like a peanut allergy?

I've also been using the lactade tablets when I can for quite some time now. I always forget to bring em with me places, though.

Side note: Don't the chewable ones taste so damned good? It's like a treat before each meal.

Thanks for the advice so far, all. Some affirmation of what I've already suspected, some new ideas.
posted by Lockeownzj00 at 8:18 PM on June 14, 2006

Another possible cause of those symptoms might be fructose malabsorption. It's not that well known but has a similar cause and similar symptoms to lactose intolerance, and is apparently very common once you actually get to testing people for it. I have it, and your symptoms (apart from the constant hunger, I must admit) sound all too familiar. There is a simple breath test that can be done that takes a few hours to administer, so that would mean a definitive answer and no "let's see what happen if I don't eat X".

If that were the case it would be the pasta, not the cheese that was causing your problems. However, managing this problem means cutting out all problem foods for three months or so so that your body can restore its digestive balance. After that, however, you can cheat a little bit and you will probably find that some foods that used to cause you problems no longer do (as I have found with milk).

Additionally, people don't seem to realise that hard cheese (any cheese that is not "fresh" cheese) actually contains no lactose. So even if you are lactose intolerant, it's not set off by the cheese on your pasta (unless it's bocconcini or something).
posted by sundress at 8:51 PM on June 14, 2006

I had lactose intolerence in high school, but ended up being diagnosed with crohn's in college.

i think that it had to do with my crohns, looking back, but all i knew at the time was that i got gassy when i had dairy.

now, i do have trouble eating. it all depends on how healthy i am (crohns patients have flare ups and remissions) I can eat lettuce some days, other days, I can't. Or some days I can't stomach anything but starches like plain pasta.

Some people lose appetite, while others (like my brother) got ravenous because the inflammation caused him to not absorb what food he ate well.

As far as bowels, diarreha or constipation can both be symptoms. Or you could have no bowel symptoms at all.

It took me a long time to get diagnosed because my symptoms weren't typical. It took me about a year of seeing specialists to convince my GI doc to give me a colonoscopy, which was of course positive. A lot of doctors had their own opinions but it turned out to be exactly what I thought in the beginning. Crohns is really hereditary, and lots of my family members have it. Do some research and be informed if you choose to see a doctor so you can ensure you are getting the kind of care you need. Good Luck.
posted by gilsonal at 8:54 PM on June 14, 2006

Some good info about food allergies here. It's geared toward parents of babies, but you can extrapolate to yourself. Also, here.

Google for "rotation diet" and "elimination diet" for lots of ideas on getting stomach distress like yours diagnosed.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:20 PM on June 14, 2006

I'd say that you should look into getting checked out for stomach ulcers because what you describe is almost spot on for the symptoms -- constant gas; near constant gnawing hunger; food being stuck in my esophagus, unable to enter my stomach and coming back up; a knotted, hard to describe discomfort in my stomach -- I had before I got my system cleared out by some strong antibiotics.
posted by The Bishop of Turkey at 10:00 PM on June 14, 2006

Intestinal parasites (such as tapeworm, mentioned above) can cause insatiable hunger. Candidiasis could also be a culprit, though doctors are often dismissisive of it as a possibility. (I don't know why: possibly because it can be caused by over-use of antibiotics and controlled/cured through diet.....anyway, it's a legitimate disease)
posted by azuma at 10:40 PM on June 14, 2006

I am not a doctor but I am a digestive physiologist. So, while I can't diagnose you, I do have some insight into what might be going wrong in there. It tells me this: it could be all kinds of things (ranging from meaningless to severe) and you really need to see a doctor to get it properly diagnosed. Not helpful I know, sorry.

But it's common for digestive complaints to not follow typical patterns of symptoms and the symptoms you describe are also not overly unusual. A doctor might notice a pattern amongst them immediately or at least be able to do further tests to figure out what's wrong. I also second the idea of first keeping a diary of food intake and symptoms. Put down as many details about both as you can. This will give the doctor a really good start on figuring out what's wrong.

It might be that the constant hunger is just because the rest of you is so screwed up it has messed with your appetite controls. I have gastritis and gastric reflux (and irritable bowel syndrome although that's not so important for this bit) and after years of having a sore tummy after eating my brain decided it must be hunger pains. So food that makes me ill also randomly me more hungry. Or it could be an important symptom, it's difficult to know.

My PhD is focussed on inflammatory bowel diseases like colitis or Crohn's disease. They're nasty and if you have one you really want to know and get it sorted. Alternatively, something like an ulcer can often be easily treated with the right antibiotics (to kill those H. pylorii), so again you'd want to know. My education tells me your case is a bit beyond the powers, but would definitely be worth further investigation.
posted by shelleycat at 1:21 AM on June 15, 2006

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